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4 Yellow

4 Yellow

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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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Yellow arrow stickers with unique codeYellow arrow stickers have beenplaced in 380 cities globally
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Presence:Yellow Arrow (2004)
Project Credits: Counts Media, Inc.- Christopher Allen,
Michael Counts, Brian House, Jesse Shapins
Yellow Arrow is a new way of exploring cities. Aharbinger of the “geospatial web”, Yellow Arrow beganin 2004 as a street art project on the Lower East Sideof Manhattan. Since then, Yellow Arrow has grownto over 35 countries and 380 cities globally, and hasbecome a way to experience and publish ideas andstories, via text messaging on your mobile phone andinteractive maps, online.
 The project is built around the idea that everyplace is distinct and engaging if seen from a uniqueperspective. With this foundation, Yellow Arrowenables every place to become an attraction. Storiesare always tied to unique details, such as back-alleymurals or unique street markers, as well as to classic
locations, like the Empire State Building in New Yorkor the Reichstag in Berlin. Overall, the aim is for Yellow
Arrow to provide a frame and platform to see the worldin a new way.
Participants place uniquely coded Yellow Arrowstickers to draw attention to different locations and
objects - a favorite view of the city, an odd re hydrant,the local bar. By sending an SMS from a mobile phone
to the Yellow Arrow number, beginning with the arrow’sunique code, Yellow Arrow authors connect a story tothe location where they place their sticker. Messagesrange from short poetic fragments to personal stories
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Presence:Yellow Arrow
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to game-like prompts to action. When another personencounters the Yellow Arrow, he or she sends its codeto the Yellow Arrow number and immediately receivesthe message on their mobile phone. The websiteyellowarrow.net extends this location-based exchange,by allowing participants to annotate their arrows withphotos and maps in the online gallery of Yellow Arrowsplaced throughout the world.Google Maps, Filckr, Layar – many of thesecommercial applications – allow users to tag locationswith pictures, comments, stories, but these narrativesremain in the virtual domain and therefore have alimited role in shaping the urban experience. Theymay help us get information about the city, and informus about our choices as consumers, but they do littleto affect the ‘psychogeography’ of the city. Moreover,these tools are available only to people with smartphones and Internet connections, which mostly limitsthe audience to the urban youth. In the ‘Yellow Arrow’projects, participants leave behind physical evidenceof the act of tagging – the yellow arrow sticker. Thiscreates a physical engagement with the city, as theembedded narrative has to be accessed by physicallylocating the site. This journey through the city, the
serendipitous experience of nding the sticker,
becomes the context of the embedded narrative. Theprocess of participating, by contributing stories or 
nding them, alters the perception of the city by creating
an alternative experience to the usual, mundane modeof navigating through it.
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‘Yellow Arrow’ also creates an unusual modeof interaction between the virtual and tangible layersof the narrative. The participants tag the site bycalling a number and leaving a voice message thatcorresponds with a unique code rather than the GPScoordinates. The code is written on the Yellow Arrowsticker and the next person that visits the site calls thenumber and accesses the voice message using thecode. This mode of interaction extends the scope of participation beyond young urban users. Hearing thevoice messages creates a more intimate and personalinteraction, as its leaves a trace of the physicalpresence of the contributor. The varying accents, thetexture of the voice, and the conveyed emotions enrichthe otherwise anonymous stories.Through this interaction, the project linksthe urban landscape with the memories, histories,identities and emotions of people who are intimatelyconnected to its narrative. It creates an opportunity for the contributor of the Yellow Arrow to understand their 
relationship with the specic spaces within the city
and claim their role in shaping the collective narrative.The participants who then receive these stories seethe spaces from a new perspective that gives them aninsight into the multiple meanings and identities thatare located within the urban landscape. If the projecthad gone one step further to prompt the participants toadd their own ‘Yellow Arrow’ story to the same space,it would start a dialogue and continue the process of building a collective narrative.
Presence:Yellow Arrow

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