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TEXT ME is an interactive documentary, which lifts the lid on the stories and secrets buried in our mobile phones. Your mobile phone has become like a time machine, it connects you with your past, your present and your future. The past is always with us, in the phones that we cradle, in the messages that make us frown, in the ones that make us smile.Texts can be poetic, brutal, intimate, shocking, sad, funny, intriguing. It’s a language that captures the random poetry of urban life.
This transmedia project will be directed and curated by Victoria Mapplebeck. Her story began a decade ago when she relegated a Nokia 8310 to the back of her kitchen drawer...an elephant’s graveyard where old mobiles go to die…. As she was scrolling through the inbox before she laid it to rest, she realised she had unwittingly archived a three year text message dialogue with an ex-partner. A story that told the story of how they met, dated for just a few months, broke up and subsequently dealt with an unplanned pregnancy. Her texts began, ‘I had a great time last night’ and ended, 'Have you got the results yet?’ when her ex-partner requested a paternity test when their son was two. His texts began, 'Loved meeting u’ and ended, 'Yes, I got the results...I’m moving to Spain..’.
Victoria brings this story to life in 160 Characters , her Film London short film shot entirely on an iPhone6.
In an age of rapid fire, often character limited exchanges, do we think before we text? Text over voice can feel like a digital hit and run. TEXT ME began with a personal story, but it also tells a universal story, one in which we increasingly expect more from technology and less from each other.
What does the mobile in your pocket tell us about who you are? The rise of social media has made us all familiar with stories that play out over a series of messages on SMS, Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp or other services. Blogs like Damn you AutoCorrect, Texts from your Ex and Last Message Received are hugely popular online. They tell funny, tragic and compelling stories using just texts and other messaging formats.
Most people in Europe have had a mobile phone since the late 90s. By 2018 most of us will have been on Facebook for a decade. We’re leaving increasingly complex trails of messages, updates and other bits of our life stories online, but how will we collect and share these in the future? Before digital dialogues, all communication, apart from letters, was ephemeral. However, now with the ubiquitous use of digital messaging, we have access to a seemingly infinite archive of our emotional pasts.
How healthy is it to have word-perfect access to our past in this way? Have our phone memories become like digital suitcases, weighed down with emotional baggage? Or is this reflection useful - not just nostalgia but a way of exploring the past in a more powerful way than ever before?
TEXT ME is an interactive experience that explores these themes and will create a platform for our audience to take control of their own digital archives, in a unique and immersive way. As the project grows, we will uncover many more digital stories archived in mobile phones old and new.
TEXT ME launched at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead in February 2016. This opening was followed by six months of workshops in which visitors had the opportunity to share their own text story. The six week TEXT ME exhibition opens at BALTIC Quay Gallery on November 3rd 2016.
160 Characters - Directed by Victoria Mapplebeck for Film London 2015 - Nominated for a 2016 AHRC Research in Film Award