Moodbank: How do you feel and what is it worth?

2018-11-27T22:18:29Z (GMT) by Vanessa Crowe Sarah Baker

City spaces have often been thought about in terms of the

functional flows of people and things: the money that is

exchanged, the congestion of rush hour, the accumulation of

rubbish and the cold face of professionalism. More recently

businesses and governments have come to see the value

in finding out how happy we are. But what about the more

diverse and complex emotional life of the city? How do we

actually feel?

City spaces have often been thought about in terms of the functional flows of people and things: the money that is exchanged, the congestion of rush hour, the accumulation of rubbish and the cold face of professionalism. More recently businesses and governments have come to see the value in finding out how happy we are. But what about the more diverse and complex emotional life of the city? How do we actually feel?


At the Moodbank, which opened in Wellington, New Zealand in March 2014, customers could visualise, deposit and exchange their feelings. Quick transactions were made via an ATM-style mood machine found in various locations throughout the city, on-line or by visiting the branch. One-to-one and group appointments were made with the Mood Manager for more detailed mappings of mood. Mood deposits were used to create collective visualisations of the mood of Wellington. The data gathered on-line and via our ATM-style mood machine produced digital mood trends and a market index that mimicked a stock exchange ticker.


The Moodbank, which may pop-up in other locations, consciously acknowledges and validates all moods rather than just those that are deemed valuable in consumer culture. We want to provoke debate regarding appropriate and inappropriate emotion and the privileging of happiness. By mimicking and subverting the aesthetics of a bank and by contrasting analogue and digital data we hope to draw attention to the processes in which our feelings become commercially valuable. In our attempt to make the collective mood of the city visible we propose a social rather than an economic form of exchange. Mood is intimate, relational, and contextual; it is complex, contradictory and messy. By visualising how we feel we are recognising the value of the often unseen emotional experiences that make up our collective mood.


This publication documents the creation, opening and end results of the Moodbank in Wellington. It also includes reflections on the project by Vanessa Crowe, Sarah Elsie Baker, Mark Amery and Sophie Jerram, and Meredith Crowe. These essays and discussions explore the conceptual legacy of Moodbank and consider the future of the project.