Word to your mother. I love you Cody. I’m in college right now. Why am I doing this?
The anonymous messages that make up Swiss graphic designer (“more or less”) Thibault Brevet’s graduation project could’ve been lifted from a bar’s bathroom wall. In fact, they were submitted anonymously, via smartphone, to an online platform Brevet named Grand-Central. Then, the user-generated messages were printed on paper discarded by newspaper printers, using a massive rolling plotter designed and programmed by Brevet in his final year as a graphic design student at University of Art and Design Lausanne.
“It functions as a guestbook,” explains Brevet. “It unrolls and creates a dialogue physically in front of the audience.” Visitors to the show (there are four coming up across Europe this fall) are prompted to visit the Grand-Central website on their smartphones or laptops. There, they’ll find a input box and a prompt to say something, either in text form or as a simple .jpg image. After they’ve submitted a message, Thibault’s rolling plotter prints each submission in thick, spindly letters, thanks to a rig of three wide-tipped markers. The result range from reflective to ribald, and an 84-page book for sale on Brevet’s website preserves the best for posterity.
It may be a bit like a guestbook, but Grand-Central is also related to the culture of the Internet, and the forums and discussion threads that populate it. Brevet disrupts what we’ve come to expect from online message boards--anonymity--by putting all of the commenters in the same room. Does the content of our commentary change, if were standing mere feet away from our audience?
And more importantly: Given a chance to broadcast to a large audience, what will we choose to say? The answers range from a (very appropriate) excerpt of Kevin Kelly’s 1998 essay, The Third Culture, to a Warhol banana doodle, to a bitter comment about unrequited love… All suggesting that while our methods may have improved, the message stays largely the same.
For more info, head over to Brevet’s website--which is worth a look itself, for its awesome use of the Google Maps API.