Idea 019 - Big Red Button

2 minute read

This post is part of the 100 project ideas project. #The100DayProject. I am looking for feedback. Comment below or DM me via social media Instagram, Twitter.

One Line Pitch

Create a series of buttons with labels, install them around the city, see what ones get pushed most


big-red-buttonAre people willing to push a big red button when they don’t know what the button is connected to or the consequences of pushing the button? Does labeling the button with something ominous and not descriptive increase or decrease the change that someone would push the button?

This art project hopes to answer these questions in a creative, playful way.

Create a small button that is attached to an ESP32 (wifi enabled microprocessor), with a battery. When the button is pressed, the ESP32 calls home and increments a number in a database. The button has a label describing the button.

The button will be embedded into some infrastructure around the city near some public wifi or shaws/telus public hotspots. It shouldn’t look official but it shouldn’t be obvious to someone walking past. These buttons should be for people who are either observant or bored looking around.

When the button is pressed either a sound or some indication that the button has been pressed is indicated to the user. The button should timeout preventing people from spamming the button.

The labels should be simple actions but ominous without too much explanation.

  • Don’t
  • Summon
  • Launch
  • Rocks
  • Regrets
  • Turn it on
  • Turn it off
  • Send message
  • Force Quit
  • Reactor Trip
  • Scram Switch
  • Pleasure
  • Pain
  • Hungry?
  • Make Rain

A worry is that someone might think that this art project is a bomb 💣 or a threat to people around them and call the police. Need some way of informing people that this is not a threat.

This is based on a project I did in my early 20s. I had a steel enclosure with a 2” red industrial button embedded in it. Above the button there was a label “Destroy humanity”. The box was 8x8x8”. When the button is pressed it logs the amount of times the button has been pressed and makes an industrial buzzing noise. I put it on the table during a party, It was pressed within minutes of me putting it out. After the party I checked the counter and it was pressed more than 300 times over the 6 hour period.

A webpage could be created with a list of the buttons, what the label is, when it was last pressed, and the count of how many times people have pressed the button. We will specifically leave the location out so people have to find them.

Prior art


Art geeks, media, installation artists

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