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Dial M For Manchester

By Rhizome

Developed for Manchester's Futuresonic04 in response to the recent urban makeover of Manchester proper, (area) code is a community-centered project created by British artist Jen Southern and mobile communications innovators centrifugalforces. Signs placed online and throughout the city invite passersby (a la L.A. Story) to respond with thoughts, feelings, and anecdotes spurred by certain monuments that have come to define the developing or disappearing cityscape. Similar to the Toronto based project [murmur], (area) code uses text messaging instead of audio to communicate its monuments' histories. This use of SMS technology helps to remove the storyteller from the story and elevate the narrations into something else - like digital tablets for a new, telemediated mythology. Participating monuments range from the Victoria Station, built in 1844, to the ubiquitous Starbucks, and while the contradictions are somewhat obvious, they help lead you to consider the city's architectural consistency in the wake of urban planning. At the same time, this networked virtual Manchester still celebrates the community that builds and inhabits it. And with your mobile handy, you are freely able to explore both.

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