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TELEPHONE TAG

Miranda July’s new app turns users into performance artists

Jenni Avins
By Jenni Avins

global lifestyle correspondent

One shame of modern technology is the way it cuts down on the sorts of random, serendipitous, and downright odd encounters we used to have before we were all staring into our cell phones all the time. Artist and filmmaker Miranda July seeks to change that with her new iPhone app, Somebody. Through the app, users can send a message to a friend, but rather than going directly to the recipient’s phone, the app will find the nearest “Somebody” (another user) to deliver the message on the sender’s behalf.

It sounds a little like middle school—”Dana wants to know if you’re going to ask her out”—only potentially more awkward, because the deliverer is communicating in someone else’s voice, likely to a stranger, and even following the sender’s instructions. Senders can tell the app whether they want messages to be delivered longingly, nervously, confidently, in air quotes, or even with a scream (or a kiss)!

Somebody/Miranda July

If that sounds a bit confusing, watch July’s enjoyable explanatory film, which is also the latest installation in the fashion brand Miu Miu’s film series, Women’s Tales. Miu Miu sponsored the app’s creation, which is co-presented by New York City’s New Museum.

If the app works, it will create just the sort of awkward, adorable, boundary-breaking encounters July’s performance art traffics in. And who knows? Its users might meet somebody special.

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