Monday, April 30, 2007

Secret Cities

From the ever excellent LifeSigns Network:

"Cities can be explored and rediscovered with new way-finding devices and interactive technology. This encourages people to look at their surroundings in new ways.

Design company Electricwig created a unique trail around the small town of Billinghay in Lincolnshire. It includes signage that shares local tales and anecdotes, and zoetropes dotted around the village that act as objects of curiosity for villagers to find while going about their daily lives.

Drop Spots are alternative mailboxes that add an extra layer of interest to city environments. They are hiding places in the public space, where people can leave items for exchange. The Drop Spots website helps hiders and seekers find their nearest spot where goodies may be hiding, or people can create their own Drop Spot in a local nook, where they can leave secret gifts such as a poem, photograph, favourite quote, or mix CD. They then log on to to map and describe the location of their drop spot so that others can find it.

The ‘Little People’ project sees street artist Slinkachu leave tiny hand-painted people across London, making light-hearted comments about society. Figures include a prostitute leaning into a car, a sunbathing man, figures holding ‘golf sale’ signs and even a figure getting cash from a miniature ATM.

The town of Karlsruhe in Germany was recently home to a street art project which enabled artists to communicate anonymously across the city's walls. Artists transformed unsightly utility boxes housing electric and telephone wires into chests of drawers, and adorned the backs of street signs with drawings and stencils. The pieces are created by a group of local artists who don't even know each other: when each new piece appears on the walls around Karlsruhe, other artists post up their own responses to the piece nearby.

Brands are increasingly using hidden public spaces to provoke interest in their products. Sportswear brands such as Adidas and Nike have already used treasure hunts; trainer fans searched the streets of London and New York respectively for clues to win limited-edition trainers. Meanwhile Dr Pepper recently ran a million-dollar treasure hunt in the US, with clues hidden online and in cities around America."

Gwyneth Holland


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