I followed the You Are Not Here walk which was presented yesterday at Conflux. This urban tourism mash-up invites participants to become meta-tourists on an excursion through the city of Baghdad while walking through the streets of New York. We were given maps printed on both sides: on the recto, a map of Baghdad, on the verso, a map of New York. By looking through it in the light, we were able to navigate through the Baghdad/New York streets. We had to look for the You Are Not Here signs placed on lamposts, walls or other locations in the streets, they indicated us that we had arrived at an important monument or square of the capital of Irak. The YANH street-signs provided the telephone number for the Tourist Hotline.
Site-specific access codes entered on our mobile phones through the Tourist Hotline provided us with audio information about the current site that we had discovered. For example, when we arrived in central Baghdad’s Firdos Square, we received information about the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein and how this might have been a stage event as most of the spectators of it were American soldiers and journalists.
Through the website, you can get your own mashed-tourist map of Baghdad, NYC with a full tour guide to all of the must-see locations.
You Are Not Here tries to expose the contrasts and the similarities between two mashed cities. We are consuming global information on a daily basis: a tourist visit demands a higher level of commitment and identification with a place than a habitual commute. YANH provides participants with a fragmented tourist experience, which provokes a critical view of urban space and its subjection to media and politics.
The experience was quite nice and walking becomes the medium through which we discussed, commented and exchanged our views about the Iraqi events.