Description of campaign/project
As a follow-up of the spreadgun performance in 2008, SMSlingshot is an extension of VR/Urban's digital intervention activism. The installation features a handheld digital slingshot device for spreading information on public screens.
Because of the increased commercial interest of paving public space with digital advertising screens the need for accessible intervention devices seemed obvious and necessary. The wish and habit to comment (tag) the surrounding world is also an ancient and still vivant phenomena we try to preserve. VR/Urban’s ambition aims for claiming back urban space and give the inhabitants a tool for occupying urban screens. People shall not only remain as a passive audience, they must obtain the privilege and beside that the right tools to create their own multimedia content in the streets. The more and more mushrooming media façades, LED augmented walls and huge projections are interesting and worthy technical innovations for the people, but in contrast to the old fashioned posters in the streets, it is nearly impossible to create own content for these facades or even hang up your digital video.
We argue and also experienced that SMSlingshot changes the way of how people deal with image in urban space. Going back to our 2008 installation spread.gun (a canon that shot messages on public walls), we felt that the "behind-the-pc-screen" communication lacks of truth. One can type insulting and strange stuff from this position, hiding behind avatars and nicknames. This can be ok sometimes, but in general its results are a bit scary. So we took the way of communicating with 140 signs known from twitter and brought it back on the streets. What we got then was a different way of communication. The people were able to link shooting person with shot message. So the whole communication process was real and social norms inherent in urban space applied. There are no censor-bots running in the program. The co-presence of other people, the social realm in front of the screen was regulating everything. No advertising, no stupid jokes (but intelligent ones) or inappropriate paroles. Everything was just playfully serious. Bringing the sender’s identity back in person to the scene is changing a lot! Another important point is that the mediated way of communication is too slow. Talking face-to-face is much more efficient and personal. So we made people talk to each other, standing in front of a screen following a shot statement and discussing it. This is always the best part. For example in Eindhoven we projected the face of racist asshole Geert Wilders in the background and people were “telling” him their thoughts on politics. But even more people not just the person that shot the message, passive bystanders were discussing it too. In this way we provide a one-to-many communication channel for the man on the street – and this makes the difference.
We learned that typing messages can take longer than expected. We learned that batteries can freeze and lose power when temperature drops below zero degrees, we learned that interaction with urban space is very challenging because there is no defined peer or target group. We learned again that the team is boss. We learned that it is important to be understood right. So many marketing agencies went for it thinking it would be the perfect thing for guerilla marketing. They obviously did not get it. And there are a lot more insights we try to digest in talks and discourse.
Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›
reclaim the screens
patrick tobias fischer, christian zoellner, thilo hoffmann, sebastian piatza
Concept author year(s) of birth
1980, 1981, 1980, 1985
Concept author(s) contribution
patrick tobias fischer: research, hardware hacking, coding, concept, organisation christian zoellner: design, concept, manufacturing, organisation thilo hoffmann: software development sebastian piatza: design, concept, manufacturing
We are an artist/research/coding collective based in berlin+dresden/germany and glasgow/scotland. We mainly exhibit international. 2010 weÂ´ve been showing the SMSlingshot at the MIT Boston, File festival Sao Paulo, MediaLab Prado Madrid, Es Baluard Palma de Mallorca, FACT Liverpool, STRP Festival eindhoven. The main base, with the atelier and workshop is in Berlin. Somehow we do not match any of these categories. We see ourselves as activists, artists and try to do this professional. We do NOT work for corporates. TheyÂ´ve been asking a lot but we stayed upright. No guerilla marketing, promotion advertising branding hipster bullshit. we follow a straight approach of creating awareness! ThatÂ´s our website sying: VR/Urban is a collective of public media inverntionistas founded in 2008 and since then more or less working together to create public media realtime installations. The aim of all projects is to reclaim urban screen for the public. In tradition of situative art and graffiti culture, VR/Urban augments existing city structures with digital and interactive media-art. The collective strongly believes in embodiement, accessibility and the tangibilty of information, so that each installation has a very performative and challenging character. The core persons behind the VR/Urban group is the media computer scien-/arttist patrick tobias fischer and the designer and design researcher christian zÃ¶llner. The team members are fluid elements of partners and friends in the fields of art, music, science, electronics, coding and architecture.