Real Snail Mail, 2008–2011Network‐Based Installation with RFID Technology
Real Snail Mail is the first Internet‐based e‐mail service to use living snails as the carriers of e‐mail messages. The snails are fitted with RFID chips on their shells, enabling them to transmit data. Within their terrarium, the snails approach sites for the transmission or reception of e‐mails. If a snail finds itself within range of an RFID reader, an e‐mail that is waiting for transmission is picked up on the snail’s chip. If the snail later on passes within range of a reception site, the e‐mail message is received there and transferred to the intended recipient. So if you send a message using Real Snail Mail, delivery can take some time since it depends on the whim and mood of the snails, leisurely making their way through the terrarium.
This project by the British artists’ group boredomresearch reflects the state of communication today, which increasingly takes place on social online platforms or by e‐mail in our networked society. The transmission of information takes place in real‐time nowadays: mobile telephones and smart phones enable us to be constantly reachable and permanently receptive. Real Snail Mail offers the alternative of a radical departure from our technologically dominated modes of communication. Here, the flow of information via good old snail mail is interrupted, physically and biologically. Our society’s wasteful handling of the resource of time, the most fleeting and valuable possession, prompts us to pause and smell the roses.
boredomresearch, Real Snail Mail | © boredomresearch