Fortuitous Subversion is a customized fortune telling machine using the familiar carnival kiosk with a modern twist. Place your palm on the reader, and Zoltar comes alive on the tablet interface. When instructed, think of a question for him to ask, and Zoltar becomes larger-than-life on a screen above. Like a deity, he responds with words of wisdom, and delivers your answer in a fortune script, printed from the kiosk. 

Be careful what you wish for.


Monica Virtue

Tatiana Jennings

Elliott Feinberg

Disney - the innovator of the amusement park concept (Gilmore and Pine: 57, 2007) – has introduced RFID technology to track large quantities of data to observe consumer behaviour and interaction with the programmed attractions (Business Week 2014). The intent of the added feature to the operations infrastructure is two-fold: first, the mass patterns of large consumer data can be quantified in micro-elements to determine the efficiency of elements such as line-ups, circulation flow, optimization of point-of-purchase sales, and duration of captive audiences; and second, the analysis of data can be interpreted to forecast trends in the amusement park market to extend the consumer satisfaction beyond the event, as the analysis of such algorithmic trends could be tailored to offer a unique experience beyond the physical touch-point of the environment, into the psyche of the returning customer. On one hand, RFID tracking maximizes the ROI by attending to customer satisfaction with the means to respond quicker to customers by anticipating their needs. Disneyland attendees are willing participants in the event process, paying for the experience seemingly made for their sole enjoyment.

 On the other hand, the capability of isolating individuals anytime, anywhere becomes a means of control, which for the most part is readily accepted by the park attendees-turned participants. On the other hand, information beyond the context of the park turns into personalized email notifications, promotional material, downloaded apps, post-experience retail consumption, and a deeper-rooted affinity to the intangible experience economy recognized by the psyche of consumers through the iconic status of animated figures across all media. RFID may not have invented theme-park psychology, but it is the latest tool added to the history of feed-back loop marketing from large-scale amusement parks to small-scale retail places (iBeacon, Wired 2014), and is becoming commonly accepted as a pervasive yet quiet form of private information acquiescence in the finite space of the “public”. In a relevant but complex discussion to be unpacked another time, Rosalyn Deutsche makes a case to reclaim the public space from territorializing entities formed from markets and policies, citing architect and theorist Michael Sorkin, “…in the new “’public’ spaces of the theme park or the shopping mall, speech itself is restricted: there are no demonstrations in Disneyland. The effort to reclaim the city is the struggle of democracy itself”” (Deutsche 283: 1996).

The Fortune-Telling experience is but a small scenario exemplifying an exchange between the citizen and her collection of private data as currency, in return for prophetic enlightenment in the medium of entertainment.

Deutsche, Rosalyn. 1996. Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press

Gilmore, James and Joseph Pine, 2007. Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want, Harvard School of Business Press, Boston MA

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