Talk Back To The City

YOUR TEXT HERE is a participatory, site-specific light installation, created by Marcos Zotes. For the occasion of DLECTRICTY, an outdoor light art festival that took place in Detroit last October, the architect transformed the façade of a large heat production plant into a giant display board that reflected the variety of voices existent in the area.

The outdoor installation aims at empowering local communities by providing a tool that transforms people voices into citizen proclamations the size of buildings. With the project, Zotes wants to create a visible spot for citizens to talk back to the city that usually only talks to them:

“The city is constantly telling us what to do, what to think, and how to act. Using explicit visual language, a multiplicity of billboards, signs, images and symbols invade our public spaces in order to tell us something. YOUR TEXT HERE is a project that challenges this condition: Citizens are given the opportunity to change their role as receivers of information in order become the authors.”


The way it works is simple. The audience was asked to submit an anonymous text message on a website through their mobile phones, and in turn, these messages are automatically projected at large scale onto the façade of the building in Detroit. The project gives total freedom of speech to participatory members of the audience.


According to Zotes, more than 1,000 anonymous text messages were submitted. Each of them was projected for about 10 to 20 seconds in a loop across the entire event. This way the space was turned into an arena for debate and a catalyst for social interaction. The projected messages are all very positive and politically correct. I wonder what happened with all the sexual, racist and anti-community messages. There must have been people using their temporary freedom of speech to address the city that way.