The Compliment Machine

image No form of deception is more ubiquitous in modern life than the cheery platitudes we constantly exchange: "How are you?" "Fine!" or "Have a nice day."

Washington DC based artist Tom Greaves has created a work of art designed to hold a mirror up to this culture of shallow, saccharine pleasantries. It's the compliment machine -- a red-and-white striped box that sits on a street corner and delivers compliments all day. As pedestrians pass by, it continuously shouts out words of encouragement:

"People are drawn to your positive energy."
"You are always there when needed."
"Your eyes are beautiful."

The Washington Post reports:
Initially, Greaves thought of making some of the compliments subversive, but had a change of heart. "Why not make it completely positive? Everyone deserves to have a compliment paid to them." And so the Compliment Machine has kind words for even the blackest of hearts.
I think there's only one proper response to Greaves' invention: Great idea! Very creative! It's going to spread a lot of positive energy!

Art Psychology

Posted on Fri Jul 27, 2007


Nice, but an Insult Machine would be a lot funnier.
Posted by Captain Al  on  Fri Jul 27, 2007  at  06:01 AM
Who needs an Insult Machine? You can hear insults on the street everyday. A compliment is much rarer - I could so do with a compliment machine.

And the fact it's probably a man in a box is okay with me too.
Posted by Nona  on  Fri Jul 27, 2007  at  06:10 AM
A guy steals a purse from some old lady walking down the street. While escaping he runs by the Compliment Machine and it says, "You are always there when needed." or "People are drawn to your positive energy." That's who needs an Insult Machine.
Posted by Captain Al  on  Fri Jul 27, 2007  at  07:13 AM
A man walks down the street after being dumped by his girlfriend, and been sworn at during work by customers all day long. The Insult Machine yells 'Hey fatty! Do the world a favour and wear a paper bag over your head!'. That's who needs a Compliment Machine.
Posted by Nona  on  Fri Jul 27, 2007  at  08:37 AM
reminds me of the Jesus kiosks in "THX1138", and the Joy-Joy Feelings booths in "Demolition Man"...
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri Jul 27, 2007  at  09:37 AM
I doubt that'd last long on a Glasgow street corner. Every alcoholic and junkie walking past would misinterpret 'You've got lovely eyes' for it being a gay machine and kick it in.

I personally like the idea. I don't think people compliment enough.
Posted by Renquist  on  Fri Jul 27, 2007  at  10:09 AM
Nona, it's an ipod in a box, not a man.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Jul 27, 2007  at  11:22 AM
I must say, all of your remarks about the Compliment Machine are extremely insightful and articulate.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Fri Jul 27, 2007  at  04:59 PM
I've heard of a version on the internet that my friend sent me.

But it wouldn't load for me, it just sits there trying to load it, so good luck trying to get it working.
Posted by Rotahn  on  Fri Jul 27, 2007  at  07:47 PM
Call me a cynic, but if I feel that the compliments would be hollow from that machine.
I mean how bad has the world got to be when a machine is needed to compliment people?
Posted by Vertigo  on  Sat Jul 28, 2007  at  12:05 PM
I know somebody who NEEDS that box STRAPPED to her back. I WAS married to her for 5.5 years!!! That sorry excuse for a human being would lash out at you EVERY chance she had if you didn't compliment her or HER son for every single accomplishment in their lives! Talk about irritating!!! I'm sure her and her son aren't the only LOSERS who would love to have that box a daily part of their life. To the fellow who thought it up, my hat's off to ya'. I know you perhaps had good intentions with it..., however, as others have noted, it would not last in todays society. Too many people are already aware of the evil reality of the world they live in!
Posted by Christopher  on  Sun Jul 29, 2007  at  08:07 AM
I try and make it a habit to throw out compliments at random intervals... and the next time you see someone with pretty eyes, or who is dressed really nicely, even if they're a stranger, let them know, because they'll feel good :D It always amazes me how people seem... worried if you give them a compliment.

ALBEIT, on the other hand, half of this world lives in a shadow of deceit, too.
For serious, no one tells, or wants to hear the truth anymore, if it has any inkling of bad in it. My best friend used to tell everyone the honest truth, even if it hurt... but let me say, that everyone knew who they could trust in a pinch. Besides, once you get sick of the empty "You look great, you're shining, blah blah" comments, it's rather refreshing for someone to tell you everything BAD about yourself xD

empty machine compliments are pleasant, but not as good as an honest real compliment. or a truth.
Posted by Mera  on  Sun Jul 29, 2007  at  04:09 PM
Starship technology comes to Earth!

Marvin the Android:"It's in the brochure.'All the doors in this ship have a pleasant attitude. It is their pleasure to open for you and their satisfaction to close after a job well done' And then they tahnk you for it. Hateful, I call it."
Posted by D F Stuckey  on  Sat Oct 06, 2007  at  07:15 AM
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