Sculpture Lights up YBCA, Lets You Send Secrets Messages

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In our high-tech society, star-crossed lovers, business colleagues and bored teenagers everywhere are finding new ways to communicate. No longer satisfied with analog methods, now we can send each other much shorter messages using digital means.

That’s nothing new but what will a love letter or business email look like in the next ten years? Hopefully as wild as Murmur Wall, a spiraling structure lit in bright purple near the entrance of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Hard to miss — especially during the darker hours — the piece allows curious visitors to read short messages and even send their own. You can type something into this website and watch your message immediately come up on the sculpture's pod-like spheres with small screens on them. You’re limited to 20 characters (and no symbols).

[jump] The sculpture is a commissioned piece created by Future Cities Lab, a San Francisco-based studio and think tank that brings together artists, designers, and other tinkerers that experiment with blurring the line between art and design.

Founders Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno boasts quite a few exhibitions and awards; they also teach classes at California College of the Arts and UC Berkeley. 

Their website describes Murmur Wall as “an artificially intelligent, anticipatory architecture that reveals what the city is whispering, thinking and feeling.” And, yes, they definitely see the futuristic undertones too. The piece explores how these thoughts and feelings will be projected in new ways in the near future.

And just like the bits of conversation San Franciscans can catch on the busy city streets, Wall Murmur keeps these “whispers” fleeting and anonymous. You can only see each message once and the creators don’t keep any of the data.

While its bright color makes it stand out at night, Murmur Wall can also be enjoyed with sparse messages during the daytime, when you can sit in a few chairs across from it and wonder just how long it will be until we can telepathically message each other. 

Murmur Wall will be on display until May 31, 2017.

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