Intervention: Googmeisters

by | Nov 6, 2018 | Artwork #3: Intervene


  • Each player receives ~20 colored googly eyes, with adhesive on the back.
  • Players designate a public space as the play area. This space should be open and crowded.
  • Each player must attempt to stick a pair of googly eyes onto as many targets in the play area as possible before being noticed.
  • Only items that specifically belong to another person are valid targets. The goal is to make people think, “Wait a second… when did my umbrella get googlified?”
  • Invalid targets include:
    • The wall
    • Posters
    • Yourself
    • Products on shelves
  • Once a player is noticed, they are out.
  • The winner is the player to googlify the most targets before getting out, or else the first player to use up all of their googly eyes.
  • If every player gets out, they must all move to a new play area before continuing.


I wish I could say that this game had some deep and world-shaking meaning behind it. And, I mean, I guess it does: everything is better with googly eyes. That’s a law of nature, as immutable as gravity or the inexorable march of time. Everything looks better when it has a little goofy face. EVERYTHING.

So, given that law, I guess this project makes the world a better place. Not in a huge way, sure. Secretly googlifying things doesn’t solve the many crises our society faces right now. But I hope that it makes people happy, and brightens their day a bit. Maybe discovering that someone has left them a googly surprise gives them the little push that they needed to turn their day around, or to keep on fighting their own battles. Even in a world as wracked with awfulness as ours, simple acts of whimsy are a form of charity.

I think my biggest influence for this project was the comedy troupe Improv Everywhere, which works to create elaborate happenings that bring a sense of wonder to the lives of random strangers. I was also strongly influenced by the stealth aspects of tactical media, such as the subterfuge required to sneak doctored Barbies back onto shelves, even though my project lacks the activist focus of tactical media endeavors.


Googmeisters was fun, and nerve-wracking, and difficult. I played two rounds in the Curry Indoor Quad, one of which I won and another I lost. Some notes from this experience:

  • Prime targets for googlification include water bottles in the back pockets of backpacks, stuffed huskies, litter, backpacks with unzipped mouths, umbrellas.
  • Most people, upon noticing me, wouldn’t call me out. They’d just smile and go about their day. I think they appreciated what I was doing.
  • The most fun part of the game was spotting a prime target, moving in to googlify it, and then discovering that my opponent had already got it.
  • Despite the core whimsy of the game, some parts of it were deeply uncomfortable. Once, a student put her phone back into her pocket after she spotted me eyeing it. Multiple times, I found myself thinking, “Aha! There’s someone walking alone who doesn’t see me! Now I just have to wait until no one else can see us, and I can strike!” While my intentions were entirely benign, it would have been hard to miss the other contexts in which such a train of thought would apply. I’m not sure entirely what this discomfort means for the art piece.