Real Snail Mail
Authors: Isley, V. and Smith, P.
Journal: Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings
Email both satisfies our cultural obsession with speed and sets the frenetic pace we obligingly follow. Our inboxes are bombarded by a torrent of messages arriving at the speed of light, demanding our urgent attention; making many of us feel trapped at terminal velocity. This extreme efficiency reverses our power relationship with technology; enslaving rather than liberating. In boredomresearch's webmail project Real Snail Mail (2008-ongoing) the artists challenge this one-dimensional 'faster is better' paradigm, by asking: Is there space in our speed obsessed world for a service that takes time? Real Snail Mail is not only slow but fragile, imperfect and unreliable - more human than machine. boredomresearch take a technology embedded in our everyday life and combines it with a biological interruption, Helix Aspersa snails (Fig 1) - allowing users to interact with the familiar on a completely new temporal scale; often provoking deep reflection. The project contributes to an on-going and critically important cultural discussion, aiming to understand our complex relationship with technology, as it fundamentally changes our experience of time itself. Insights relate to both urgent global concerns aroused by environmental, and economic turbulence, affecting us all, as well as the intimate and private relations between two individuals, as for example they negotiate the failing of everlasting love. In the words of Carl Honoré, the author of In Praise of Slow, "Real Snail Mail.