Ralph Borland, Tim Redfern: SMSage

  • ©, Ralph Borland and Tim Redfern, SMSage



Artist(s) and People Involved:



    Security-camera housing, speaker, amplifier, Netslug computer, various electronics

Artist Statement:

    SMSage is a security camera that babbles, chatters and blathers using a speech synthesizer. Unlike the the speaking security cameras recently installed in parts of Britain, SMSage does not transmit the voice of authority, but that of the public, who can send SMS messages to it to be recited.

    SMSage detects the names of nearby Bluetooth devices, which it invites to contribute SMS text messages. Even here, SMSage is no mere conduit for information – for after first reciting messages faithfully, it starts to mutate them, rearranging words and splicing them with previous messages. Its voice shifts in pitch and emphasis as its thoughts seem to wander. Perhaps the camera is mad; a voyeur overtaken by the information pouring into it, it babbles to itself, rejecting its official function and embracing the overlaying, shifting information scape of the city.

    SMSage consists of a mobile phone, amplifier, speaker, an Arduino microcontroller and a Netslug computer contained in a security camera housing. It is self-contained, running on battery, for quick impromptu installations. Building upon the experience and support of a community of enthusiasts and hardware hackers, SMSage utilizes cheap off-the-shelf hardware and open source software to create a unique platform for temporary electronic installation.

    SMSage has been previously exhibited at Conflux2007 in Brooklyn, New York