Design and Construction
by Mathew Mackey

Interaction and Sound Design
by Peter Mackey

The Reverse Psycholotron was one of the 40 Theme Art Installations at the 2005 Burning Man festival in Black Rock, Nevada.

Burning Man's 2005 Art Theme was "Psyche: the Conscious, the Subconscious and the Unconscious".

The sole means of interaction with this nine and a half feet tall, six feet wide, monolith is a large red button labeled DO NOT PUSH. Nearly 1000 interactions were recorded; many visitors pushed the button more than once. We estimate approximately 5% of people who approached the unit obeyed the directive, and kept their hands to themselves.
“It is up to the participant to decide what to do. While physically benign, the psychological consequences of obeying or disobeying this simple instruction are as infinite as the variety of participants who visit it.”

The interaction design consisted of programming a state machine that would respond to various styles of user button-pushes (timid, gentle, aggressive), generating a variety of suitable sound effects appropriate to the “mood” of the machine.

The machine was designed to run self-powered (Apple Powerbook 170 computer(!) running MacroMind Director version 4(!), picMicro circuits, and sound system) for up to five days in the heat, cold, and dust of the Nevada playa. And it did.
Photos by Matthew Mackey.