The Revolutionization of Communication
A delegation from Transmediale 2012  came over to my place last night to discuss the latest Telekommunisten artwork, R15N . In addition to various organizational and technical details that we need to work out in preparation for the not-to-be-missed upcoming Transmediale, we talked about the artistic qualities of R15N and the Miscommunication Technologies series in general, which includes works such as deadSwap  and Thimbl .
R15N in some ways represents the purest example of a miscommunication technology so far in the series, not only is it a broadcast model, thus fulfilling the Telekomunisten slogan “The Revolution is Calling,” but it really combines many of the core characteristics common to the work of Telekommunisten.
Like Thimbl, it is an economic fiction , a platform that for the most part is free to use, yet does not in anyway monetize user data or interaction. Like deadSwap, the system depends on the diligence and competency of the users  and their willingness to co-operate with random people, who are likely to be completely unknown to each other. Without such diligence and co-operation of the users, the system breaks down into nothing more than a telephonic game of broken telephone.
R15N will be the Official Miscommunication Platform of Transmediale 2012.
Our hope is that the system will serve to create engagement and a greater sense of community at this years Transmediale. The installation side of R15N is minimal. Some signage and two retro phones under desk lamps, along with a phone booth in which to access the website will represent the work in the physical space of the festivals, but the main purpose of these is to get visitors to register to the system.
Only once the user is registered is the artwork really experienced.
The system is extremely miscommunicative, failed calls and missed calls and occasional poor call quality seem bewildering at first, and the R15N experience begins quite mysteriously and somewhat awkwardly, as users get dropped into the network and begin to be connected with strangers, with whom they are ment to interact. But very quickly the experience starts to feel normal as users acclimatize to it’s quirks and begin to lose inhibitions.
Very quickly, the system becomes a highly efficient way to broadcast information, as despite the somewhat unmanageable communication flow happening on the system, the very cooperation and engagement such a miscommunicative platform requires amplifies the message on channels outside the system, as users share their experience with the people around them and people connected to them on other mediums. By building community though the shared experience of the system, R15N becomes a catalyst for the exogenous propagation of information as well.
Technically, this style of broadcast is similar to what is known as the “Random Phone Call” broadcast model , a theoretical model which proves that a given message can saturate a network very quickly by simply connecting random nodes together.
Historically, it works like a randomized, ad-hoc version of the old “phone tree” method of pushing information out to a large community. Phone trees where used by many communities, from schools to church groups to the military , when they needed to notify a large number of people quickly. Setting up and maintaining a phone tree was one of the essential tasks of activist groups and political campaigns.
Artistically, we have given the system a retro identity, harkening back to the early days of computer networks and telecommunication platforms and the utopian visions of a new society these new platforms inspired. Both playing on the related nostalgia, but also as a parody of modern corporate web platforms today, who peddle centralized and captured implementations of use cases that have been around for decades as somehow revolutionary and innovative because they have managed to squeeze out more powerful open alternatives by way of exclusive access to finance capital.
Economically, such a system is extremely accessible, since all calls are initiated by the system and incoming calls are free in most countries, the system is free to use for most people, even for people who have no calling credit on their mobile phones. Nothing more than a working telephone is required to participate.
The system is currently in beta stage, and thus usually inactive, however registration is open and everyone is free to sign up now. Be a part of the R15N community. Don’t miss out on important information! Register Today!
I’ll be at Cafe Buchhandlung  tonight at 9pm as usual, please come by.