Dr.Whippy is a machine that dispenses soft scoop ice cream according to the perceived unhappiness level of the customer. Employing voice stress analysis of the user’s answers to specific questions, varying degrees of unhappiness are measured and the counteractive quantity of ice cream is dispensed: The more unhappy you are, the more ice cream you need.
Dr.Whippy is an installation and performance that looks at how design can approach the challenge of offering a unique product or experience by incorporating the user as a key element to the outcome. The research investigated the meaning of placebos, what happiness is and what makes people happy.The installation and performance puts the user into a world of existing cultural norms with completely different meanings: we remember through memory the 'soft-whip' ice cream from the colorful and musical ice-cream van, the park, a warm day, childhood nostalgia, and this is completely subverted and the ice-cream machine becomes a piece of medical equipment, the “soft-whip” ice cream becomes the medicine and the cure, the ice-cream man becomes the doctor who specializes in “soft-whip” medicine, the park becomes the doctor’s surgery. The installation and performance comprises of the user in the soft-whip surgery waiting room waiting to be called in by the nurse. Once the nurse calls in the patient Dr.Whippy greets the patient and asks the nurse to prepare the patient by placing them in front of the Dr.Whippy machine, explaining at the same time how the device works. An empty cone is also given to the patient. The user is left to speak to the machine answering any questions the machine might ask. The process lasts a total of approximately 20 seconds. Once the analysis is complete, the user is asked by the machine to hold the cone under the dispenser, awaiting the final diagnosis. The more unhappy you are, the more ice cream you will need.
This project mixes elements of dignity and humor and places the user in a process of self-reflection. Did it make them happier? Would they think about their happiness on a much deeper level after their experience? It also questions how humor, design and performance can become a means to conveying experiences which lead to a more in-depth thought process by allowing scientific and technological research and development to become more coherent to a wider audience, without the frustrating consequences of complicated language and terminology society often faces when investigating such areas.
The project was partly funded by the Royal College of Art-Platform 11. Technical Assistance: Bjorn Franke. Special Thanks to: Noam Toran, Carey Young, Clemence Seilles