JANE MULFINGER & GRAHAM BUDGETT, REGRETS Santa Barbara, 2008, Casa de la Raza, The Old Courthouse and Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Part of Off Axis: Electronic Poetics, funded by UCIRA, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara County Arts Commission

REGRETS Santa Barbara: [Linz, Paris, Cambridge] an interactive archive, public conceptual artwork, & action-research study regarding the human capacity for remorse

regrets.org.uk ยท team@regrets.org.uk ยท an action-research collaboration

Mobile units roaming public space in Santa Barbara collect and display anonymous regrets from the public in Spanish and English to comprise a sociological database of time- and site-specific sentiment in the community. Regrets Santa Barbara is an interactive archive, a public conceptual artwork, and an action-research study of communally shared but typically private recollections.

Instant feedback to the individual user based on other locals' similar concerns is algorithmically generated and calculated to 'share the burden'. A wireless connection queries a central database located on a remote server. Using keywords from the submitted text and other self-describing user input to define similarity, the server returns to the user the five most similar of others' regrets. An incongruous element to some of the returns lends a thought-provoking, poetic character to the user feedback.

Through existing signage, text, network, and broadcast facilities, random selections and groupings of regrets sampled from the archive are made public across the city. The community could view the regrets projected on the facade of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the old city jail at the Santa Barbara Courthouse. By engaging local users in revelations of a problematic but potentially constructive nature, REGRETS Santa Barbara aims to bring specificities of individual lives, in this case personal regrets, into the realm of public debate, shared learning, and community. In particular, remorse is seen here as a positive entity, incorporating recall, reflection, error correction and learning. Far from retrograde, remorse promises change for the better...