REGRETS Cambridge: [Linz, Paris, Santa Barbara
an interactive archive, public conceptual artwork, & action-research study
regarding the human capacity for remorse
an action-research collaboration with
NOVEMBER 2005, ENGLAND
: Mobile units roaming public space in
Cambridge collect and display anonymous regrets from the public to comprise a
sociological database of time- and site-specific sentiment in the community.
Regrets Cambridge is an interactive archive, a public conceptual artwork, and
an action-research study of communally shared but typically private recollections.
Instant feedback to the individual user based on other locals' similar
concerns is algorithmically generated and calculated to 'share the
burden'. A wireless connection queries a central database located on
a remote server. Using keywords from the submitted text and other self-describing
user input to define similarity, the server returns to the user the
five most similar of others' regrets. An incongruous element to some
of the returns lends a thought-provoking, poetic character to the user
Through existing signage, text, network, and broadcast facilities, random
selections and groupings of regrets sampled from the archive are made
public across the city. The Cambridge Public will encounter fellow
citizens' most personal misgivings in the spaces usually occupied by
communal information, advertising, publicity, & entertainment.
By engaging local users in revelations of a problematic but potentially
constructive nature, REGRETS Cambridge aims to bring specificities
of individual lives, in this case personal regrets, into the realm
of public debate, shared learning, and community. In particular, remorse
is seen here as a positive entity, incorporating recall, reflection,
error correction and learning. Far from retrograde, remorse promises
change for the better...