Modern communication is a paradox. We do more and more of it, yet communicate less and less. Think about all the people you see in public staring at their phones. They’re having rich discussions with people in Oregon (some of them), but ignoring the person next to them.
This strange situation led interactive artist Ivan Cash to find out what people were talking about. As an experiment, he went out to the streets of San Francisco to ask people “what was your last text?” You can see the results in the video above.
He says: “I was curious to see what’s going on behind the screen. Who are these people? What are their lives like right in this very moment? I wanted to expose vulnerability, and to give viewers a glimpse into the intimate lives that we all have. While some people were just meeting someone for lunch, or whatnot, I was totally blown away at the number of people who were talking about such rich, interesting things.”
Cash has other projects on a similar theme, including Snail Mail My Email, which transcribes email messages as handwritten letters, and Selfless Portraits, where strangers draw pictures of each other from photographs. The current project, he says, was inspired by Humans of New York, which collects thousands of stories from city residents, and “Hey You! What Song Are You Listening to?”, which asked what was on people’s music players.
Cash says he was encouraged that a lot of people he asked about texting were happy to answer. He adds: “I hope it will remind us that we’re all just human.”