Out and About – The Acme Mood Regulator on Independence Avenue – A Photo Essay
by Elizabeth Eby
Posted March 26, 2021
Here’s the Acme Mood Regulator. It’s located on the north side of Independence, 1700 block. An unexpected joy. Somebody spotted this metal box full of electronics to regulate traffic and not only imagined the Mood Regulator, but painted it to invite contemplation by passersby.
To my 1950’s mind it recalls images of computers and fear of how in the future they would control everything, including us. However, a friend sees it as a symbol of our ability to master our moods and the triumph of science over mythology. Whichever way you go it is a triumph of imagination and filled with enough details such as the Start Keyhole to launch you on your own journey as you walk around it. Note the Ward 6 designation which causes me to wonder if it is a commentary on local rather than universal humanity.
However you interpret it, it is an invitation to interact with the environment. A reminder to look at the objects we usually walk by without a thought and possibly do not even see. I started to think of this in terms of a question: how does the object look back at me? A question I started to toy with when I lived in Chicago and a potential boyfriend suggested we meet “at the North Lion.” He was way too cool for me to risk asking exactly where that was. Fortunately I figured it out in the nick of time—the northernmost of the two lions that guard the entrance to the Art Institute.
Here are some photos to stimulate your thinking. And if you choose to give it a pass you can pick a book from the adjacent little library.
Out and About is an occasional photo feature by artist, photographer, and Capitol Hill resident Elizabeth Eby. She finds vignettes while out and about on Capitol Hill.