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Toy Dispenser to Give Out Free Compliments Under the High Line

By Ben Fractenberg | October 6, 2014 7:46am
 Artist Leah Harper is installing a compliment-giving toy dispenser beneath the High Line on 14th Street for the Art in Odd Places Festival running Oct. 9-12. 
Complimentary Toy Vending Machine
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MANHATTAN — Compliments don't normally come cheap in New York City, but for a few days they will be given out for free from a toy vending machine on 14th Street.

Leah Harper is installing her piece "Complimentary," a compliment-giving toy dispenser beneath the High Line, as part of the Art in Odd Places festival, which runs along 14th Street from Avenue C to the Hudson River Oct. 9 through Oct. 12.

Harper, 31, said she hopes her interactive installation will “make people stop their routine and do something more interesting and memorable. And to make people smile.”

She put out a request for compliments on Craigslist in July and posted a survey online, then she culled about 100 plaudits, like "you make really good soup."

Some others include:

"I like the way you move." 

"You're totally worth more than they're paying you."

"Your teeth are beautiful."

Participants will be able to receive a compliment by turning the nob on the toy dispenser, which will dispense a plastic toy capsule containing a compliment.

There will be a recycling container next to the dispenser, which will allow people to quickly dispose of the capsule for reuse.  

Harper, who lives in Ridgewood, graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2012, where she studied social design, a new degree about applying design to social causes.

She also recently created oversized, brightly colored dominos that participants could rearrange for the FIGMENT Festival on Governors Island this past summer. 

Harper hopes to raise $600 through IndieGoGo to support the "Complimentary" project, which she will use to pay for additional toy capsules, compliment printing and the recycling bin. 

The vending machine and stand were donated by the Northwestern Corporation, the perforated paper is from Perforatedpaper.com and Top Notch Toys is providing a portion of the plastic toy capsules. 

The free Art in Odd Places festival will feature 62 projects along 14th Street, including listening posts with headphones, free T-shirt printing and a "robot that interviews people."