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3 Taxi

3 Taxi

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Published by Sumona Chakravarty

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Published by: Sumona Chakravarty on Sep 29, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Signages with messages contributedby communityThe Taxi with location sensitive signage
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Presence:TAXI (2003-04)
Project Credits: HAHA collective‘Taxi’ is a car with a digital advertising signattached to the roof. Linked to a global positioningsystem, the message changes relative to the
car’s location, addressing specic neighborhoods,
addresses, and audiences. The technology can targetan area as small as a square block. Haha solicitedmessages through email list serves and throughdirect contact with various groups throughout thecity. The animated messages are pre-programmedin a computer integrated into the cab’s architecture.Messages come from people who live in a chosenarea (“This is the best neighborhood ever (except for the gangs), I want to send a shout out to my mom anddad” — West town in Chicago); or from someone who
wants to intervene in the assumptions of a specic
place (“Go home Wal-mart” in front of a Wal-mart bigbox store). Messages range between the political andthe personal (“Don’t mess with my Fro,” “We need jobsnot war,” “Hi Honey!”). Instead of promoting products,Taxi uses the technology to voice the thoughts andopinions of citizens and groups as the car travelsthrough city neighborhoods.
The Project necessitated building a relationshipwith the participating community by collaborating withneighborhood groups and the community of local taxidrivers. The data was crowd-sourced and, althoughthis process usually involves a remote relationshipwith the participants, this project started as a hands-on
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interaction with the people who contributed. This builtup the narrative of the project from the very beginningand it was these very same people who later becamethe primary audience.Although the data could have been collectedwithout any personal or physical interaction, thisalternative approach highlights the idea propagated
by British sociologist Steve Woolgar, that virtual
interactions are more meaningful when based onsome material reality.
As participants/spectators, the communitycollectively created a spatial narrative that thatrepresented the emotional, social, political, historical
geography of their neighborhood. By doing so, they
participated in altering an urban narrative that is usuallyshaped by the government, by larger economic andpolitical interests
, and created a collective identity for their community. The tactic of using Taxi signage alsoreinforced this act by using a medium that is usuallyused for advertising to impose ideas, as a way of sharing ideas that are contributed by people.The contributions ranged from casualmessages, to personal, political comments. Throughthis diversity and lack of censorship, the projectcreated an open platform for democratic participation.As the Taxis moved from one locality to the other,the messages, displayed as colorful graphic visuals,
ashed at specic locations. While these messages

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