Chinese Snails

We have just remotely installed a live enclosure thanks to Pierre Wolter & Melanie Zagrean (Arts Claims Impulse) in the exhibition Stadt am Rande at the Today Art Museum, Beijing. The new Chinese recruits Wang, Ming Mei, Cheung, Tao, Manchu, Sheng Li, Shu Fang, MIng Yue, Fei Yen & Genji are working for us from the 15th -28th August 2010. Check out the article in Beijing Today on the exhibition.

Snail Crime Scene

Every garden has its anvil stone used by Thrushes breaking open snail shells. Ours is proof that disguishing yourself as a robot snail is not fooling any Thrushes.

Remains of Beatrice (Agent 10) and Agatha (Agent 6) found in our garden.

After several days of rescheduled flights with the volcanic disruption we did finally manage to fly out the day before the opening to install Real Snail Mail in the exhibition Process as Paradigm at LABoral Centro de Arte y Creacion Industrial in Gijon, Spain. It seemed ironic that our journey getting to the space seemed so turbulent considering the exhibition’s theme is all about art that is continually evolving and in a state of flux.

In the exhibition we have installed a large Real Snail Mail table which is nearly 5 x 1.5 metres. The table is populated with 34 new Spanish Agents, 8 readers (4x collection/despatch), substrate and plants. The RSM installation was well received during the opening on the 23rd April 2010 and we are keen to follow the progress of the new recruits over the four month exhibition.

For further information on the exhibition you can download a free exhibition catalogue

Yesterday, we released Reginald (Agent 12), Beatrice (Agent 10), Sean (Agent 7) and Agatha (Agent 6) into the mossy verge in our garden. Last seen heading towards the neighbour’s fence and their runner beans. Still chipped and lively after 2yrs and 2mths of service (tagged on 12th February 2008). Between them they delivered a total of 599 messages. Our best performer was Reginald who delivered a total of 206 messages and Sean liked to take it easy with his average transfer time of 19 days 19 hours 37minutes 56 seconds.

We take the time to remember all the other original snails which were tagged in February 2008 who have sadly died during service. The good work of Fred (Agent 5), Walter (Agent 11), Francis (Agent 9) and Penelope (Agent 8 ) will be remembered. Between them they delivered a total of 431 messages. Fred achieved the slowest transfer time on record of 118 days 17 hours 17 minutes 26 seconds and Francis managed a super fast transfer time of 2 minutes 52 seconds. Walter was found dead on the forward reader on the 12th February 2010 after we spent the evening resolving a problem caused by a corrupt email that resulted in a number of his emails being posted repeatedly. We would like to take this opportunity to apologise for any inconvenience Walter may of caused. We will never forget him as he was the first to go missing when he laid his eggs in September 2009 (read the below article ‘Walter & the Cucumber’ for further information). It’s been a great couple of years working with these snails and we have learnt so much about their behaviour. We look forward to working with all the new recruits (40 spanish snails) we are introducing to a Real Snail Mail™ live enclosure in the Process as Paradigm exhibition at  Laboral Centro de Arte y Creatión Industrial, Gíjon, Spain which starts next week.

School Snailing

When we was invited to exhibit Real Snail Mail at Laboral, Gijón Asturias for the Process as Paradigm exhibition (23 April – 30 August 2010) we started a discussion with the educational team about the potential of a smaller enclosure being hosted in a local school. Laboral seized the opportunity and started contacting local schools, in just a week a school was on board, Gloria Fuertes Infant School in Gijón, for 3 to 6 years old children.

On the 18th February we went to the Gloria Fuertes Infant School  to install the first school hosted version of Real Snail Mail. We gave a presentation to the teachers and the Laboral education team, so they could gain an insight into the background of the project and provide some thoughts on how Real Snail Mail could be used to inspire creative learning. 

Within this session we had a brainstorm with the teachers and discussed ideas on potential activities/methods in how they could use the system within the classroom. All the teachers seemed very inspired by the project and keen to start actively using it as a learning tool.

On the 19th February each class from the school (a total of ten classes) rotated round to the enclosure for an informal talk.  The children were very enthused and we opened up a discussion by asking the children questions such as ‘What mode of transport did they think was the fastest way of delivering a message’ i.e train, aeroplane, car, bike. This allowed the children to think about delivering messages quickly. The session was very playful and with open questions such as whether a snail is faster than an aeroplane. The children responded well to this questioning and it allowed them to build up to the idea that the internet was faster than other modes of transporting messages. Each class took away a snail so each child could draw their class snail and think of a name. The classes voted on one drawing and name to represent their snail on the profile page.

This enabled the classes to start taking ownership of their snail and there was already a dialogue emerging on which class snail would be the fastest deliverer.

Since our visit the school has developed a whole range of classroom activities using the Real Snail Mail project, you can see some of their work on the School’s Blog.  

Overall, both days at the school were very rewarding and we took away a very positive experience allowing us to think about the potentials of working with other schools using this project. We would especially like to thank Lucia Arias and Monica Bello at Laboral for enabling this project to happen. We are looking forward to revisiting Gijón next week for our next Real Snail Mailing experience in the Process as Paradigm exhibition where we are exhibiting a large enclosure containing 40 new Spanish snails.

ARCO Deliveries

The ten Spanish snails (aka Manuel, Federico, Enrica, Alfonso, Madalena, Javier, Esmeralda, Pablo, Frida & Catalina) that were exhibited at ARCO Madrid have now made all their deliveries so we have removed them from the Real Snail Mail profile page. In total the ten snails made 78 email deliveries during the contemporary art fair from 17th-21st February 2010. They also received some media attention on Spanish TV check out this feature after 8.59mins.

We are grateful to Bages Cargol who delivered these Spanish snails safely from Barcelona to our hotel in Madrid. Also, thanks to the Osuna Madrid Hotel reception staff who looked after them before we arrived and kept them in hibernation in their fridge.  A big thank you to [DAM]Berlin for enabling this exibition to happen within the Expanding Box section. It was a good opportunity to show Real Snail Mail within this context and the art fair was a great inspiration to us.

boredomresearch will be using Real Snail Mail as a vehicle to enrich a school’s curriculum. Educational workshops and lesson plans will be built around the RSM Educational kit to encourage creative interrogation of en-grained paradigms in an effort to promote innovative thinking regarding future technologies. The first pilot project is launching on the 19th February 2010 at the Gloria Fuertes Infant School located in Gijón, Asturias supported by Laboral Centro de Arte y Creatión Industrial, Gíjon, Spain

The Gloria Fuertes Infant School community includes children with ages from 3 to 6 years old. Its aim is to contribute to the physical, intellectual, affective, social and moral development, always in close collaboration with their families, respecting diversity and encouraging creativity, and the use of new technologies.

Increasing bandwidth

Boredomresearch will be exhibiting a live Real Snail Mail enclosure at ARCO, Madrid (17th-21st Feb 2010) in the Expanded Box section; a space which shows the most current trends exploring the influences and/or uses of technologies in the arts. The system bandwidth will be increasing during the exhibition with ten new Spanish snails (aka Manuel, Federico, Enrica, Alfonso, Madalena, Javier, Esmeralda, Frida, Pablo & Catalina) being exhibited. The snails have kindly been donated by Bages Cargol, Barcelona.

Over the last month we have been writing proposals to produce a large scale installation version of Real Snail Mail where visitors can walk through the enclosure which contains hundreds of RFID chipped snails (Real Snail Mail agents). Portable RFID interrogators will be available for participants to select a snail to carry their email. Displays will output whether that snail is available, if not several agents may need interrogating. Snails’ profile data will be outputted on terminals with delivery times, reports on their performance and predictions. The public can engage with the snails and the system throughout the day – emailing, feeding and misting the enclosure.


We are waiting to hear the outcome of our proposals and in the meantime we are looking after the hundreds of potential snail mail recruits (pictured above in their hatchery.)

Walter returns

One of Walter's babies on a 5 pence

Walter reappeared in the tank. As there were no signs of a forced entry, we presume he never left. We also discovered a new clutch of eggs so it seems Walter had tucked himself away to give birth. Maybe the labour was induced by the excitement of the Russian TV crew? Walter is alive and well and the enclosure is now peppered with his children. If anyone would like one or two of Walter’s offspring we can post to mainland UK for a small fee…