Modern-day technology has trained us too well. We wake up in the morning with the routine, nagging urge to check our phones and feel a tingling sensation in our fingers if a text is left unanswered before we go to sleep.
Phone Shrine is a response to the ritualistic nature of comms, a place where one can pay homage to the demigod of telecommunications – quite naturally christened, Siri.
Through Phone Shrine Melbourne performer Renae Shadler and visual-arts collaborator Arie Rain Glorie explore the notion of the mobile phone as serving almost as a shrine to its owner’s identity.
As people congregate at the shrine in Federation Square, they will be invited to anonymously send Siri a text message; a prayer to the future of telecommunications, an offering of a sacred set of characters, an image, or a confession of misuse (no sexting!).
Each text activates the installation. Siri – sporting a silver, corporate power suit – motions towards the texter as her four saintly Siri spirits shift around her in dance. They are then given a gem which can be attached to their own “everyday shrine” that is their mobile phone. Siri’s response to texts can be viewed online the following day.
The installation was trialed earlier in the month, and Shadler describes the text messages received so far. “I think my favourite was, ‘Hi Siri, please forgive me for my self-absorbed soul and please save me from the fires of internet gratification. Also, leadeth me away from porn. Oh, and please make sure I get good reception’,” she laughs “We even had somebody confess their love for someone, which was really cute.”
Shadler stresses the significance of shrines regardless of one’s religious beliefs. “If we don’t have that religious connection in our everyday lives, what are the substitutes? If we were to have a modern-day religion, what would it be and what does contemporary lifestyle offer us?” she says. “I’d really like Phone Shrine to keep going to festival events after this and we can follow the homage trail.”
Light in Winter also features works by a wide range of community groups of different cultural backgrounds. Shadler’s top festival picks, aside from Phone Shrine of course, are Radiant Lines, DIY Shrines, Cube+ and The Day of The Dead Mexican Shrine.
The Light in Winter festival will be on at Federation Square from June 1–22. Phone Shrine will be active this Saturday on the Western Terrace between 6.15pm–6.45pm, and again from 7pm–7.30pm.