Secret Police Disco

I’m very proud of the monkey and the effects it catalysed, but the Secret Police Disco may have to be declared the most powerful of all the installations. Not bad for something about an inch high!


Hidden away behind the hatch to the basement, only viewable through the gap caused by the hinges, the Secret Police Disco was intended to be a subtle counterpoint to the big obviousness of installations such as the Trapeze Monkey and Ghost (Town) Tapper.

I decided not to tell anyone where it was (although I did succumb to pressure/sympathy and give a few clues!) and wait and see if it got discovered. What was really interesting was watching what happened after that…

On each day of the weekend we had a team of Challengers working with us to facilitate and document the various things going on. I briefed them about the Monkey in the Community Room’s rafters, the tapping things in the basement and the tweeting things in the Members’ Room, but when it came to the police disco (the building was at one point used as a social club for the police force) I merely said that there was one, and, if they were to find it, to please not broadcast its location.

That of course turned it into a massive mission to try and find it. The ‘secret’ bit of the title kind of evolved into use as different knots of people started challenging each other to find it. What was nice though, was that it wasn’t out-and-out competition, but rather the different groups would also work hard to lead people to the point of discovery. [Note to self: read up on naches and vicarious pride.]

Secret Police Disco was a really nice reminder that small can be juicy and also that, amongst all the complicated mechanisms, some of the most powerful technologies for interaction at our disposal are collaboration; collusion; obstruction; pantomime (thanks Martin!); blinky lights; and an understanding that our actions have made something happen.