Surface Patterns

BlinkMedia and Centrifugal Forces, who have just missed out on a BIMA award for their SMS project CityPoems, have announced a new project for early next year – Surface Patterns:

SURFACE PATTERNS is an evolving archive of local history which uses mobile phone technologies and the internet to bring to life and celebrate communities’ unique hidden histories. Sympathetic signage will be used to indicate to pedestrians that a site has been tagged. By texting a keyword, registered mobile phone users will be able to access text, sound files and even photographs revealing how the site has transformed over the years. A living archive will evolve as users are invited to give contributions to add to the archive of oral history accounts. Information will be collected on a website featuring an aerial map allowing visitors to see at a glance the physical map of urban development and community memories and watch the growth of the site as it evolves.

Looks really interesting – I remember having a conversation with Rachel Baker about a similar idea when she was doing a residency in Hull. There’s a lot of people interested in augmenting and tagging real space with mobile data, but few examples that have built any real momentum. There’s real potential for this kind of augmented reality social software, but the trick has always been developing an interface that will make sense in such a rich sensual environment. The simple ‘tags’ proposed in Surface Patterns make more conceptual and aesthetic sense that GPS or other attempts to fix messages in a virtual space. Why bother triangulating positions on virtual networks when you can just slap a sticker on a wall?

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