‘this.message.will.self-destruct.’ is project by Megan Smith & Michael Grant, that relays secret messages using infrared light and handheld technologies. The project is narrative-based, leading and informing an audience through a physical journey within the built environment by engaging them in the interactive process of using their mobile phones to uncover a ‘hidden-to-the-naked-eye’ story. The project concepts are drawn from interest in geo-politics, interactive art works, and socially engaged practice.
‘This message will self-destruct’ extends directly from ‘Landline’, which was commissioned by Ottawa-based art and technology institute Artengine, for their 2013 festival ‘We Make the City, We Are the City’, and is funded by the Canada Council for the Arts. ‘Landline’ is an app for Android and iPhone for audio archiving site-specific experiences. In it’s first instance it is a city-based project that promotes the democratization of the local voice within the context of the built environment it is affected by. This living archive gains agency through participation and has the potential to become a geo-located audio map of places within the city recounted democratically, and anonymously if the participants wish.
Progressing on from ‘Landline’ we understand that we have made a geo-located platform to share voice, to increase understanding of space and to build a place for social democracy to happen within. We now want to push the context of the topic further and, in a way, flip our project on its head in order to focus on communicating across covert space. Within an oppressed society there can be the inability to share data and voice which force residents to adopt covert methods of information relay. ‘this.message.will.self-destruct’ aims to lay down a platform that could be used within that context. For instance, projecting a QR code onto a city building with infrared light. A person reads the code with their phone, which brings them automatically to a website holding a secret message. The QR code can continue to exist as a projection but the connection to the data can be changed after one hit from the phone, and hence the project title; it self-destructs. The project is both a social intervention and a space for new narratives.