160 is an archive of 160 SMS messages that I have treasured in the past 18 months. These messages, of up to 160 characters each have been sent to me from my boyfriend, sister, parents, and friends, from phone companies and people offering me SMS porn.
160 is exhibited as part of the S19.Afflatus Project, Art for Mobile Devices, www.s19.com.
The messages are unedited, a snapshot of what people have been sending me, telling me, asking me. These are my messages, but not my messages, they are not what I have written, but what I have collected, and chosen to keep. These things mean something to me, as do so many messages to so many people.
Whilst we know what we send by SMS, and we know what we receive, we do not have any idea what other people get, how other people compose messages; we have no view into other people’s phones. As a Digital Artist, I was keen to explore this with the development of treasuremytext (www.treasuremytext.com). This project ‘160’ is 160 of my messages stored on treasuremytext. It is a snapshot made available for anyone else to browse how they choose, to make their own judgements about me, my text life, and the people who send me messages.
Most of us have to delete SMS messages we have received from our phones, this collection demonstrates the powerful nature both in the important messages and the mundane ones that can be tracked back over an extended period of time. Without treasuring these messages they would have been lost, but now have a new life as a text archive which can live away from the mobile phone.
The availability of messages for others to take away using their iPod offers people voyeuristic opportunities to explore the content of this work, to try to construct their own stories around the messages they find, to identify their own meaning to build their own picture of those whose mobile lives have touched mine. Much of the content of my messages is humorous, throw away, perhaps pointless; this hints at what the rest of us carry around in our pockets but never show anyone else.
Whilst it is possible to get content off a phone onto a computer, or onto a website, this project extends the possibilities for viewing mobile art by making this content available on iPod. iPod is used as the viewing device, offering greater control for the audience. The use of iPod also raises questions about ownership of artistic content, each user creates a new version by the act of downloading and viewing the work.