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Waiting For Small Packages to Explode

Urumqi: a workman's tools

You are walking in your high street and you see a bag on the ground. What goes through your mind?

What would happen if you left a bag like this on the ground in your neighbourhood, your high street? What are the cues that signal to others that the bag is unattended? Or that it is deliberately placed there? To what extent are the cues inherent in the bag and how it is placed, and to what extent in the context?

Consider a future perfect with widerspread surveillance and sousveillance, objects that maintain a location awareness and include sensors that can log the user and its use and of course bill appropriately. For some objects throw the ability to move autonomously. That object you see on the ground, on the bench, at the traffic lights – is it unattended or is it simply trying to appear unattended? Objects that appear in the ‘right place’ just when you (think) you need them – the perfect form of contextual advertising – you’ve picked it up so now its yours, go use, please. Oh, and we’ll settle the transaction in 30 days.

Physical objects super-distributed.

And the bag? Photo taken at the People’s Theater square in Urumqi – day labourers advertising their skills and availability by placing tool bags and boxes on the ground. The camera-shy would-be workers are huddled to one side trying to stay warm and chewing the duck fat – to a passer by the bags looked unattended.