Senders and receivers of an SMS text message normally know one another personally; every mobile-phone number saved thus tells the story of a friendship, acquaintance, of trust in advance. In his project Thirty-Nine Or So To Do, Etchells uses this individual aspect of SMS communication on a group of people who are unknown to him.
Over a period of 11 days, Etchells sends SMS instructions to various participants – whispers them, as it were, into the ears of strangers. The messages range from simple instructions, such as ‘go outside’, to complex ambiguous invitations, such as ‘take a risk’. In the field of tension between intimacy and anonymity, a space develops in which our everyday life can be perceived anew in the interplay of the instructions of the game and individual responsibility.
Thirty-nine Or So To Do was originally produced by Tanzquartier Wien, and ran from 26 May – 5 June 2009.