Inspiration, and other neat projects that use phone technologies.

I am surrounded by both artists and futurephiles, and some folks who are both. So I hear about a lot of exciting projects being put together both here and elsewhere. A few years ago Blast Theory put on A Machine To See With (in conjunction with the Walker Art Center) in and around Saint Anthony Main. It was fantastic and exciting, and more than anything, I wanted to see something like this done by locals. Maybe with poetry, because I’m a poet. As I was writing the grant proposal, I came across other art/technology projects that would also be cousins with the type of project I wanted to put on.

Immediately, I thought of Jane McGonigal, a game designer who has time and again stretched the scope of what games are and can do, where and how they take place. In helping make I Love Bees (an Alternate Reality Game created as a viral marketing campaign for Halo 2) Jane and her team created an intriguing mystery and story which video gamers (and others) had to unravel by traveling to pay phones to listen to messages or speak with actors, collaborating, and deciphering clues. I would not have that sort of budget, but the success and redefinition of game to people who believed themselves experts in What Gaming Is meant something huge to me. (Jane’s done a lot of really amazing things with gaming and creating new ways for people to interact with their worlds, but I’ll maybe hit on that later.)

In my research I discovered Dial-A-Poem, a project started in 1968, which connected callers with answering machines with poems recorded there. The project ran for years, with thousands of people calling a week.

Since then people have pointed out different projects that are cousins to mine, a project in Australia, another somewhere in the Twin Cities suburbs, others.

And then this morning I saw this project being done by New Museum in New York, NY. It’s much bigger (but obviously, being done by a museum, they’re going to have more funds and access to stories than one poet will.

To see more information about just what Ring Ring Poetry will be, check out the “About” page, labeled “Star Six Nine” over on the left.

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