South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual film festival with a wide range of entertainment. While many of the films and music usually reach the rest of the United States after, those of us not in Austin, Texas unfortunately have to miss out on the interactive media the space has been increasingly known for sharing. However, chatbots might be relieving some of that festival FOMO.
Giorgio Armani presented a third edition of Films of City Frames at SXSW last week, which ran from March 12-15. Chatting with the Armani Facebook bot gave users a context, as well as an opportunity to win “Frames of Life” sunglasses and guidance around their SXSW appearance. The bot is full of interesting information and we’re not just saying that because it complimented our picture. Still, telling us they opened with “a VIP premiere and cocktail party” which was “followed by an interactive public experience” feels just a little bit like bragging.
The bot describes Films of City Frames as “a cultural project confirming Giorgio Armani’s commitment in support of emerging talent, and highlighting our strong ties with the world of cinema.” Through the bot, you watch this years films which include shorts like “Invito” from Prague, “Cut” from Beijing, and much more. If you decide to watch a film, you can also learn about the director and the Armani eyewear featured in each one. Even cooler, you can look at the films from previous years until you’ve used up an entire afternoon. Using the bot to spotlight directors aligns with this mission, and hopefully it’ll introduce film fans to some new names.
The voice of the Armani bot isn’t especially personalized and reads more like museum text panel, but it provides a look into the SXSW space for fashion fans that can’t make it to Austin. Using a chatbot also feels right for a festival that emphasizes creativity and new technological interactions, which makes this a fantastic medium. Although the bot can’t capture the scale and atmosphere of the installation, we found the element of exploration through Messenger fun as well. SXSW attendees that did make the Films of City Frames might even enjoy revisiting their favorite films or checking out older ones. And while we didn’t win any sunglasses, we were definitely tempted to buy some.
What do you think about using bots for an art installation? Is the Armani Facebook bot a good consolation prize for not attending SXSW?