Every fan of Miranda July (above) knows the indie filmmaker/writer/artist is full of intriguing ideas. Her latest, a messaging app called Somebody, takes July's signature quirkiness to a whole new level.
Somebody isn't your typical messaging app, although it looks like one when you launch it. When you sign up, you have to upload a profile photo. This is important. You pick a friend to send a message to, but the message doesn't pop up on your friend's phone. Instead, the app uses GPS to find a person near your friend who can relay the message in person.
When you compose your message, you write it out as a script, complete with dialogue and actions. The stranger who has to deliver your message will convey exactly what you want them to. You can even select your stand-in before sending the message by checking out their profile. Like Airbnb hosts, stand-ins are reviewed and rated based on their past performances. You can see their photos, likes, and ratings to make sure they're the best person for the job.
Once your script is written and your delivery person picked, both the stranger and your friend get notifications with meet-up location and profile photos. Then the performance can begin.
If there's no one nearby your friend at the time you want to send the message, your message will "float," or wait for someone to pick it up. You can pick floating messages to deliver, too.
You know those standard promo videos that show how to use the latest app? July, of course, has created her own masterpiece as part of designer Miu Miu's Women Tales series (below).
It's pretty weird, but I would expect nothing less from July. The app's iTunes description encourages users to share their Somebody experiences with July, so I wouldn't be surprised if this turns into a grander art project, along the lines of last year's We Think Alone experiment, which featured excerpts from the e-mail sent boxes of celebs like Lena Dunham and Kirsten Dunst.
In fact, July has presentations about Somebody scheduled at museums around the country this autumn. Presumably, you'll be able to send and deliver messages with other Somebody users at these events.
The sign-up process is pretty buggy, so I wasn't able to complete my registration (yet). If you have better luck, let us know.