Demitrios Kargotis (UK) Dr. Whippy

installation, 2007

Dr. Whippy brings the user into a world of existing cultural norms with completely different meanings: we remember through memory the ‘soft-whip’ ice cream through the colour and music of the ice-cream van - the park, the warm day or just childhood nostalgia. In the case of Dr. Whippy, the meaning and the context are subverted: the ice-cream machine becomes a medical piece of equipment, the soft-whip ice-cream becomes the medicine and the cure, the ice-cream man becomes the doctor who specializes in ‘soft-whip’ medicine, and the park becomes the doctor’s surgery.

Dr. Whippy is a machine that proffers soft scoop ice cream according to the perceived unhappiness level of the customer. The user is asked to stand in front of the device and follow the instructions: the user is required to talk for 15 seconds, confessing at the same time a part of themselves to the machine. Employing voice stress analysis of the user’s answers to specific questions, varying degrees of unhappiness are measured and a counteractive quantity of ice cream is dispensed: the more unhappy you are, the more ice cream you need.

How can you measure such an arbitrary emotion such as happiness? Why do certain foods, such as ice cream and chocolate, as has been proven through studies, make people feel happier? What is a placebo? These are some of the questions asked and investigated prior to the making of Dr. Whippy.

This project mixes elements of dignity and humour and places the user in a process of self-reflection. Did it make them happier? Would they think about their happiness on a much deeper level after their experience of confessing and being judged by a machine? It also questions how humour, design and performance can become a means to conveying experiences leading to a more in-depth thought process by allowing scientific and technological research and development to become more coherent to a wider audience, without the frustration with the complicated language and terminology one often faces when investigating such areas.

Demitrios Kargotis (UK)

Demitrios Kargotis (b. London, 1982) studied industrial and vehicle design at Coventry University and at the Royal College of Art, London, where he received an MA in 2008 since when he started collaborating with Dash MacDonald. They were both members of Platform 11 at the Royal College of Art, directed by Noam Toran, Carey Young and Onkar Kular Singh. They exhibit internationally, most recently in Tokyo, Austria, Zurich, Spain and London.