Innovation That Matters

Seoul government's giant ear sculpture actually listens to the public's opinion


Yobosayo is a large sculpture that records the opinions of passersby and relays it over speakers in City Hall.

In a true democracy every citizen has a voice, but it can be the case that many don’t feel like politicians actually listen to it. In order to promote itself as open to what the public has to say, the Seoul government has installed Yobosayo – a large, ear-shaped sculpture that records the opinions of passersby and relays it over speakers in City Hall.

Designed by artist Yang Soo-in, the sculpture’s title means ‘Hello?’ in Korean and is situated outside City Hall, where disgruntled citizens would normally head to lodge a formal civic complaint by filling out a form. Instead, the big ear sounds a message when someone walks past, inviting them to leave a message for officials. Passersby can lean into the sculpture to offer criticism or praise of the government’s services, their opinions on current political events or even just air their thoughts. Whatever they have to say is recorded by a microphone located inside the ear and each message is then relayed through speakers located around City Hall. Sensors on each speaker detect how many officials are listening at the time and the soundbites that attract the biggest audience are saved for posterity – hopefully for authorities to take into consideration.

We’ve seen how Textizen in the US has been using community noticeboards and text replies to gather the views of the public, and this is another project that empowers members of the community. The project acts both as a public art installation and a quirky, engaging way for those sole voices to be heard – literally. How else can governments instil confidence that they really do serve the people by giving them a platform for direct communication with representatives?

Spotted by: Murray Orange



Download PDF