My new project is titled How to get rid of homeless.
The medium of choice is print. Or, rather, post-print.
A 600-page epic split in two volumes documenting the so-called “homeless scandal” that affected the newly released game SimCity (Maxis/Electronic Arts, 2013), How to get rid of homeless reproduces dozens of threads concerning “homelessness” that appeared in Electronic Arts’ online forum between 2012 and 2013.
I have collected, selected, and transcribed thousands of messages exchanged by the forum members who first experienced, and then tried to “eradicate”, the phenomenon of homelessness that “plagued” SimCity. From surprise to despair, from shock to resignation, these posts highlight the pitfalls of simulation, the not-so-subtle effects of ideology on game design, and the interplay between play and society, politics and entertainment.
Decontextualized from their original source and reproduced on paper sans the majority of online communication hallmarks (e.g. author’s signatures, side banners, avatar pictures etc.), these textual exchanges create a peculiar narrative. Some of the dialogues’ absurdist tones evoke Ionesco’s plays. Others reveal racist and classist biases, and forcefully introduce - or, rather, reintroduce - a highly political vision that the alleged “neutral” algorithms were supposed to overcome.
So what is How to get rid of homeless, exactly?
It is an act of defamiliarization: the original content is reproduced in a different context. Thus, the forum has been deterritorialized. It is a gesture of reblogging/retweeting/reposting digital content in a physical space.
How to get rid of homeless confers materiality (and thus “weight”) to the ephemerality of online conversations, where editing is a fluid, ongoing activity and can be performed almost in “real-time”. Print adheres to different temporalities and protocols.
How to get rid of homeless is an act of reframing: it gives the original text new shape and meaning by virtue of a novel context. Reproduced on paper, these posts challenge some of the fundamental assumptions about the form and content of the book.
As an edited reproduction of an archive, How to get rid of homeless clearly communicates its self-referential character. As an archive of an archive, How to get rid of homeless is a collection of previously assembled data. The book format is assertive: it attributes value and relevance to content normally deemed trivial and irrelevant.
As How to get rid of homeless appropriates and re-presents a collection of presences (the authors’ statements), but also of absences (e.g. missing images that have disappeared from their respective online archives), the book can be read as a meditation on the writing process itself in the age of digital media.
How to get rid of homeless is available on Amazon in a limited edition of 99 each.
Here is the full table of contents in ADD-friendly format (that is, video).
And a critical "text" that provides contextual information (also in ADD-friendly format).
Submitted by Matteo Bittanti