team: Jane Mulfinger, Graham Budgett, Carl Magagnosc
Research Cambridge & The University of Westminster, UK
- contribute your regrets to the global archive - view contributions to and
initial documentation of the localised event REGRETS Cambridge [November
- 20, 2005]
Regrets: a public conceptual artwork
Six to ten purpose-built mobile computer stations publicly
located in and around Cambridge collect anonymously submitted regrets
from the public to comprise a sociological database of contemporary
regret and remorse.
Instant feedback to the individual user based on other contributors'
similar concerns is algorithmically generated and calculated to 'share
Random selections and groupings of the regrets are made public across
the city through existing signage and broadcast facilities.
By engaging users in revelations of a problematic but constructive
nature, we aim to bring specificities of individual lives, in this case
into the realm of public debate, shared learning, and community.
Regrets are often the conceptual vehicle of self-improving
tendencies, but they are rarely communally active in any meaningful way. We propose
a self-organising archive of regrets, accessible for contribution and retrieval
via public booths. Remorse is posited here as a positive entity, incorporating
recall, reflection, 'error correction' and learning. Far from retrograde,
remorse promises change for the better.
Each booth houses a terminal with wireless connection to a central
database located on a remote server. Self-organising algorithms use
the submitted text and other self-describing user input to define similarity. [Chance will
have a pseudo-poetic and perhaps comedic role to play in output.]
The booth method of submission, as opposed to mobile phones, for example,
is intrinsic to the anonymity of the messages. The booths are a
hybrid of church confessional and automated teller machines where a user can
deposit regrets and/or receive a statement of similar transactions.
Signage will provide instructions in usage as well as mapping sites in the city
for experiencing the public aspects of the work.
Local venues for public display and broadcast will air sampled results
from the archive. These sites and means of distribution will be garnered
by negotiating permission of use from local business, community and
media sources. Each display will be adjusted to the circumstances
at hand [i.e. a listing of the regrets in video display format could be used in
the window display of an electronic appliances shop].
The situational aspect of display is considered to be a part of the
work and a part of the community outreach in the work.
We believe that a community's conceptual and aesthetic
engagement in art and the culture of new technologies benefits that
community, art, culture in general, and those technologies.
The public is both relieved and entertained
by the anonymously shared burden of remorse. The REGRETS team sees
great power in the possibility of collective redemption.
Social and Cultural Relevance
To engage the public in art and alternative use of new technologies
To humanise technology and increase its scope
To contribute to community mental-health and well-being
To blur the distinction between public and private thought
The creation of an archive that is a specific glimpse of a certain
population at a certain time
A heightened awareness in the local population of shared concern
A recognition in the local population of a willingness to learn from past error
The alleviation of personal angst
The local public will have the opportunity to commit their personal
cares to an archive of community messages, entering a 'common-knowledge'
pool of misgivings and good intentions. The resultant comfort may be seen
to substitute the church confessional or the psychiatrist's couch.
©2005 REGRETS team: Jane Mulfinger, Graham Budgett,
This project belongs to a growing body of work being produced in
the contemporary art world that can be characterised as Information
[Implicit in this tendency is the notion that we can learn from existing
data and information by reconfiguring it conceptually and looking
at the results again in the context of art]. The
project also reflects growing assertions of temporary art into the
public sphere, at once testing general public assumptions about
artwork, and bringing the work
beyond the potently elitist history of the gallery/museum paradigm.