Since 2006, the Free Speech Machine has explored the interplay between virtual and physical public space. Participants address not only the audience in the immediate area, but also an extended audience via downloadable files of their speeches on the Free Speech Machine blog.
The FSM has been located at art fairs, community events, political rallies, conferences and a drop-in center for teens experiencing homelessness.
As a tool for engaging the public, it offers a means of collecting opinions that doesn’t privilege written responses, broadening its appeal and accessibility. Qualitative feedback is easily solicited through the careful crafting of prompting questions, and the barker can also ask follow-up questions for clarity, turning the interaction into an impromptu interview opportunity.
The Free Speech Machine is available for rental (with or without a barker) through ReadyGoArt.com.