Here’s one project that slipped into the back of my memory until very recently for two unrelated reasons. The first is that I received an email from the Walter Philips Gallery this morning, which commissioned the MobileScout for its Database Imaginary show up at the Banff Center for the Arts, talking about the travels of that exhibition and preparation of a catalog. The second reason is that I was just at UC Irvine to give a talk yesterday and met Robert Nideffer who has a sweet set up over there. Some swell projects, one of which was a phone-based game experience, so we got to talking about the interesting and fun challenges creating game experiences that use telephony as a game mechanic.

A Mobile Phone and Web Public Art Project by Julian Bleecker, Scott Paterson and Marina Zurkow

Are you in a concrete jungle or swamped by tourists? Who’s around you, what do you see? A deer, a dump or a daydream? Saintly acts or sinful facts?

Mobile SCOUT is a public art project that collects audio narratives of your local surroundings, personal rituals and public sightings. Using your mobile phone, you leave a voice message of your observations with the Mobile SCOUT Ranger, our automated quirky naturalist.

Turn your observations into a brief message about the flora (landscapes), fauna (characters) or behaviors (events) that populate your surroundings.

Call the Mobile SCOUT Ranger – 1 (877) 564-3060 – he will guide you through the experience.

When you call you’ll:
pick your mission (flora, fauna or behavior)
pick two habitat attributes
leave a recording

Further instructions for operating Mobile SCOUT are available at our online brochure at

Mobile SCOUT defines place as being made of social habitats, not geography. Your recordings are organized into an audio/visual field guide according to the kind of space you occupy, be it play, work, nature, culture, public, private, branded or free speech.

See the field guide and listen to recordings left by others by visiting the web site

Mobile SCOUT was commissioned by "The Database Imaginary", an exhibition at the Walter Phillips Gallery at The Banff Center, and curated by Sarah Cook, Steve Dietz and Anthony Kiendl. Mobile SCOUT was produced with support from BeVocal for voice application hosting

Why do I blog this? The discussion of ways to use the mobile handset as an interface device, more than just as a screen on which one plays Pac-Man or whatever, reminded me that there are a bunch of interesting interface possibilities. Robert had a project some students were working on a game experience that combined location with telephony/voice.