PostSecret is a project created by Frank Warren. It has its beginning in 2005 and has since manifested across various forms including a website, books, films and museum exhibitions.
“PostSecrets is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.”
The main premise of the concept involves having anonymous individuals send in postcards written with secrets they would like to divulge. Frank and his team then makes a selection amongst them and has them published or displayed on its various platforms. The content is
While the idea itself is relatively simple, the project is nevertheless evocative, opening up questions about privacy, anonymity, our innate need for a sense of connectedness and community.
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Since its inception in 2005, countless other platforms and similar websites have sprung up allowing individuals to share their inner most thoughts and sentiments they would otherwise perhaps not openly share with others.
Locally, “Confessions” websites and pages have been a popular outlet. There is even one for the NTU community.
Personally, the fact that PostSecrets seeks for contributors to mail in actual postcards with their messages physically written on them is rather interesting. The steady decline in sending snail mail has been in place since email communications took over as the primary means for allowing sending letters to others. Yet, many still take the effort to send in their postcards to PostSecret. Often these postcards become little pieces of artistic expression that feature various collaging, deconstructive, and text-visual juxtaposition techniques.
The physicality of these messages in the form of the hardcopy postcard is an interesting point because PostSecret had an iOS app revoked late 2011 because there was a far higher volume of malicious comments and entries posted through the app than what moderators could cope with.
This distinction in the medium resulting in two very different outcomes hints at what we know for some time now – the cloak of anonymity and instant connectivity provided by the web encourages a more superficial, trigger-happy engagement.
Another aspect that PostSecret deals with is the negotiation of space between what is considered private and public. The voluntarily decision to give up one’s date (or secret) here is an interesting juxtaposition to the myriad of spying and data collection techniques and technologies used by various government agencies and corporations. Many of which are compulsory (in exchange of the use of certain services) or are committed secretly without the knowledge of the target.
This all points to the value of data. What is the bytes upon bytes of our digital trail and physical whereabouts worth? To whom is it worthy? And what can we do with the data to render it useful for various purposes?
Overall, PostSecret’s success and relevance even in today’s fickle climate is testament to its lasting appeal as a platform for individuals to reach out to others in a cathartic and anonymous fashion.
The following are two videos that PostSecret has produced in recent years as part of its efforts to diversify its output.