Texting is tacky. Calling is awkward. Email is old.
On August 28th Miranda July, fimmaker, media artist, writer and everything inbetween, unveiled a new form of messaging:
Somebody — an app created with support from fashion label Miu Miu, available in the iTunes store as a free download (sadly iOS only).
The knack of somebody is the integration of strangers and random into the typical one-to-one communication of chat-applications.
When you send your friend a message through Somebody, it goes — not to your friend — but to the Somebody user nearest your friend. This person
(probably a stranger) delivers the message verbally, acting as your stand-in. The app launched at the Venice Film Festival along with a short companion film, part of Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales series. The hilarious flic gives you an idea about what may happens if somebody uses Somebody to send you a message and will destroy your believe in the innocence of house plants forever.
Since Somebody is brand new early adapters are integral to its creation — the most hightech part of the app is not in the phone, it’s in the users who dare to deliver a message to a stranger. “I see this as far-reaching public art project, inciting performance and conversation about the value of inefficiency and risk,” says July.
Somebody works best with a critical mass of users in a given area; colleges, workplaces, parties and concerts can become Somebody hotspots simply by designating themselves as one (details on somebodyapp.com).
Official Somebody hotspots so far include Los Angeles County Museum of Art (with a presentation by Ms. July on Sept. 11), The New Museum (presentation on Oct. 9), Yerba Buena Center for The Arts (San Francisco), Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and Museo Jumex(Mexico City.) Museum-goers are invited to and deliver messages in these spaces where there are likely to be other users.
Somebody twists our love of avatars and outsourcing —every relationship becomes a three-way. The antithesis of the utilitarian efficiency that tech promises, here, finally, is an app that makes us nervous, giddy, and alert to the people around us.