Saturday, January 27, 2007

There are some that only employ words for the purpose of disguising their thoughts. Voltaire

Images from Doug Aitken's Sleepwalkers, MoMA New York

Sleepwalkers is an installation of film projections by Doug Aitken outside New York's MoMA, featuring performances that include Tilda Swinton, Donald Sutherland and musician Cat Power, amongst others. Each projected film tells the night time journey of a New York resident as they wake and travel into and through the city. The project is described as exploring "the constant flow of life and energy that is New York" and features the stories of each character, including a postal worker, a businessman and an office worker. As I explored the website, I wondered what characters we might choose to show the night time life of Portsmouth - I'd love to hear ideas. Whatever springs to mind, it would be wonderful to see more projects like this around the city, encouraging all of us to think about the stories of this densely populated village.

In my constant quest to find inspiring cultural projects, I recently discovered one that also manages to be touching, funny, disturbing and beautiful all at once. The website is called PostSecret and the creators describe the project as "an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard." But there is no description for this site. You simply have to check it out for yourself.

Flouncing your skirts, you blueness of joy, you flirt of politeness, You leap, you intelligence, essence of wheelness with silvery nose, And your platinum clocks of excitement stir like the hairs of a fern.
Karl Shapiro

I keep receiving the most bizarre spam emails. Almost all of them advertise Viagra (though how these sites discovered my personal addiction to the stiffy pills, I have no idea), but this in itself is not strange. What is strange is that each one ends with a small and apparently indiscriminately chosen extract from a Harry Potter novel, for instance, at the end of one such email:

"why, when the class gave a particularly loud groan at the amount of
Transfiguration homework she had assigned.
You are now entering a most important phase of your magical education!"

Maybe they have to include a random piece of text to sneak past filters, I don't know anything of such matters, I'm sure. What this demonstrates to me though is that this most technological of phenomena, virtual junk mail, has at its root, humanity. Although I have no intention of taking them up on their proud little pill deals, I have started to read each one as they come in. I like the randomness of the text, like bibliomancy.


Dill said...

Hey, i keep getting those viagra emails, i thought it was you that was sending them???

D. xxx

g said...

I've spent ages (and I should have been working....oops!) at the PostSecret website. Great find, thank you.

Sarah said...

Dill, you're not fooling anyone - your own Viagra addiction is an open secret, you pulsating-member-inducing pilldropper.

G - I know what you mean, PostSecret is an amazing concept, and a beautiful site. Glad to have provided some distraction!

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