Architecture Professor Develops Text-Messaging Project

April 15, 2009

Syracuse University Architecture Professor Develops Interactive Text-Messaging Project to Encourage Exploration of City

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Syracuse residents can participate in an innovative project developed as a fun way to explore the city, as they receive installments of a text-messaging novel about Syracuse via cell phone. Through May 8, short pieces of the story will be available at 26 different locations in the city, including on the Syracuse University campus. The first chapters were released on April 10, and subsequent chapters will be released every Tuesday and Friday during the four-week project.

Anda French, assistant professor at the SU School of Architecture, devised the project as part of a Syracuse Architecture New Faculty Works Grant, in conjunction with the story’s author, Tony Antoniadis, a graduate student in creative writing at SU. A website featuring complete details of how it all works includes interactive maps, release dates and all 26 locations, as well as an opportunity for readers to provide feedback on the story.

Participants send a text message with the code found on signs at the locations and receive a chapter of the story. Different chapters are sent depending on where the code is found, giving the reader a role in how the story unfolds. The project’s name, Sibylline TXT Syracuse, is taken from Virgil’s “Aeneid.” The priestess at the Oracle of Cumae, the Cumaen Sibyl, reveals her prophecies on oak leaves sent from her dwelling, the cave with 100 mouths. The sequencing of the oak leaves as they scatter creates varying stories. Similarly, the use of cell phone text messaging in this project will allow for a variety of stories and encourage the public’s engagement.

“We hope this project will encourage people to explore new areas of the city and to think of those spaces differently,” says French. “It will also serve as critical research about the potential effects of mobile technologies on our understanding of space and place.”

An exhibition of the project will be held on Thursday, April 16, on the MLAB (mobile literacy arts bus) as part of Th3. The bus will be at the Redhouse Arts Center at 201 West St. from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and at the Community Folk Arts Center at 805 E. Genesee St. from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. For details on Sibylline TXT Syracuse and the exhibition, go to www.syracusetext.com.