research design laboratory

As part of the Mobile Media Lab at Concordia University, I recently attended a talk by Antoni Abad, an artist from Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain.

His work is parked at, but the site itself is a mere fraction of Abad's intervention and social impact. Abad left his practice as a sculptor in favour of a kind of social media art intervention practice.

Since the early 2000s -- way before cell phones were cool or accessible to the general public in many places -- Abad used the device, which he deemed the perfect broadcasting machine, something that you can hide and put in your pocket, to give voice to individuals on the fringes of society or from within diasporic communities. Using mobile phones, taxi drivers in Mexico city, Motoboys in São Paulo, sex workers in Madrid, people with limited mobility in Geneva, etc., have been able to conceive of and express an alternate reality, often a counterpoint to the mainstream media which tends to depict fringe groups unfavourably, if represented at all. The cell phone allows people to record, share, and broadcast their point of view.

My particular fascination with this project is that it identifies a communication problem first, and relies on technology as solution -- there's no gimmick, no technofetishism. For more on this, check out his conversation with Kim Sawchuk at Wi: Journal of Mobile Media. Well worth a read if your're curious about issues of intensity and affective involvement, ethics, collaboration, ownership, etc., in these ongoing interventions.

*Archinodes and the Mobile Media Lab are currently collaborating on the Audio-Mobile App project.