P.S. Sorry if I Woke You – an SMS novel on about being dumped, patched back together again and getting there

”P.S. I am sorry if I woke you” started with us taking on the role of contemporary rag pickers, in the project UNRAVEL / REPEAT. The figure of rag pickers was chosen partly because it is a character that would allow us to travel and reach different parts of the region, and partly because of our interest in the becoming of obsolescence. In the early 19th century, a time characterised by lesser general mobility than contemporary society, rag pickers travelled between villages to collect discarded materials to be reused and repurposed in new contexts. As they travelled between villages they also became carriers of stories and knowledge.

In the UNRAVEL/REPEAT project the figure of the rag and bone wo/man is reactivated, partly through a reconsidering of what the rag and bone materials and practices of today might be. During our travels as rag and bone women we did not ask for worn-out jumpers, but what we thought of as a contemporary kind of rag and bone: discarded, no longer used mobile phones that might potentially be tucked away in drawers, electronics stashes and so on.

Out of our rags, in shape of stories and electronics, new strings were later on unraveled and repeated into an SMS-novel, which we titled P.S. Sorry if I woke you. The name refers both to the fact that we had woken the phones from various kinds of sleep modes (completely dead batteries, no batteries at all, or with locked screens waiting for someone to dial the right pin code in), and also that the SMS novel might occasionally wake its potential subscribers, since some of the texts are sent late in the evening or early in the morning.

Compared to other SMS novels that primarily use SMS as their means of distributing a story, P.S. Sorry if I woke is a novel that consist of conversations between four characters or phones. In other words, it is a novel that is not only composed of text messages but also uses text messaging as the means for telling a story. In this case a story based on what has been said and done in the region – the stories that we collected during our travels and also text messages and images found in the phones. The four phones that participate in this conversation were given new batteries and placed in a capsule that travelled to different locations in the region. When all the batteries had run out the system was shut down and it was no longer possible to subscribe to the novel. Exactly how long it would take for the batteries to run out was, however, hard to anticipate since several factors, including the number of subscribers, the reception where the capsules were placed and the model of the mobile phones used within the capsules, would all play a part in deciding the duration of the story.

The project was done in collaboration with Konstmuseet i Norr.

Hardware and software composition: Helga Steppan and Nicklas Marelius at Unsworn Industries.

Capsules gathered at the opening at Kiruna City Hall.

Norrländska Socialdemokraten
Norrbottens Kuriren