UNICEF’s ‘Time Machine’ Tells Stories With Data
An experiential installation at the UN General Assembly reminds us why every child matters
At the beginning of the General Assembly this week, UNICEF unveiled an installation at the Secretariat Building. Labeling it a’ time machine,’ this interactive box was built in partnership with Domestic Data Streamers in order tell a story utilizing data. The purpose of this project is to get people to understand the needs of children and the importance of collecting data on all children around the world.
The time machine itself is a mirrored box that has room for only one person. The mirrors comprising of the time machine’s exterior blend in with the environment while capturing the attention of those walking by. It is a little intimidating to enter at first, but there is someone from UNICEF gently guiding people to step into this box. Once you step in, the door closes behind you and that action activates the experiential journey. A steady female voice takes you back to your childhood, urging you to recreate your favorite drawing as a child and asking personal questions like who your best friends were. In less than five minutes, there is a beautiful musical composition that surrounds you, as the time machine takes your responses and creates a song just for you.
At the end of this journey, you alone can hear the sounds, heartbeats and production of your song. The questions are for you to remember the joys and dreams of your childhood then realize how important it is for every child to experience the same. While the song wraps up this experience, a commitment pledge gets printed out. This pledge uses your personal data to create a unique agreement to protect children of the world. The pledge is signed and posted around the installation.
Daniel Vadnais, Communication Specialist of Data Research & Policy at UNICEF explains, “We wanted to encourage the audience to be involved instead of passively looking or listening. Incorporating emotion and technology with an introspective perspective causes people to go back to their youth and realize the importance of having valid important information of all children.”
It is hard to fathom how it is like for children in other countries who simply do not have access to even the most basic necessities. It is also sometimes difficult to see the importance of data when it comes to helping those in need. However, time has always shown that data is a powerful tool for change. Around one in three countries does not have comparable measures on child poverty. It is crucial to know the population that you want to help and have as much information as possible to enact any sort of positive, necessary change. This innovative experience lets people reflect internally while understanding that each child should be accounted for.
header image: ©UNICEF/UN032231/Markisz