Miu Miu is continuing its Women’s Tales series with not just another short film, but an accompanying app.
This time in partnership with artist and filmmaker Miranda July, the ‘Somebody’ project is based on the idea of a “new way to communicate”.
“Texting is tacky. Calling is awkward. Email is old,” declares a statement from July. The app accordingly offers something different altogether – the opportunity for a third person to go and deliver your message for you. Users write what they want to say to a friend into the app as per normal, then using GPS to locate said individual, pick a stranger that is physically nearby (and also has the app) to verbally present it on their behalf.
Each stranger comes with photos and performance ratings to help in the selection process. The message also always starts with the sentence: “[Recipient’s name]? It’s me, [Sender’s Name]” — reminding the messenger to take on the identity of the sender. Essentially it’s like sending someone a script with performance directions included – you can even add emotions for the stranger to consider in their delivery, like [crying] or [longingly].
July came up with the concept based on memories of singing telegrams and the way romantic messages used to be delivered by friends at school. “I see this as far-reaching public art project, inciting performance and conversation about the value of inefficiency and risk,” she explained.
The write-up continues: “Half-app / half-human, Somebody twists our love of avatars and outsourcing —every relationship becomes a three-way. The antithesis of the utilitarian efficiency that tech promises, here, finally, is an app that makes us nervous, giddy, and alert to the people around us.”
The film (as below), which premiered at the Venice Film Festival this week, ties the concept of the app together, showcasing it in action with various groups of people. There’s a break-up, a marriage proposal, an argument and a particularly intriguing end-scene with a plant.
The app was developed with designer Thea Lorentzen and developers from Stinkdigital. Its launch comes with some official hotspots to encourage ‘critical mass’, including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The New Museum (NY), Yerba Buena Center for The Arts (SF), Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and Museo Jumex (Mexico City).