The idea of the Urban Alphabets project is to show inhabitants and tourists of a particular city how special and unique that city is. Using the Urban Alphabets smartphone app, participants make up their own version of their city’s alphabet. At the same time all letters are geo-tagged and uploaded to the project website (www.ualphabets.com). All letters from the city are used to generate the city’s custom alphabet, which is then displayed on the website. The project uses smartphones, the website, media facades, and tablets to allow participants to play with the language they have created, even allowing them to construct messages with their own alphabet, called Urban Postcards
The main aim of the Urban Alphabets project is to raise awareness of the beautiful minute detail so often missed in urban surroundings, and to encourage participants to look at their city in a new way: Using letters as graphic symbols for the visual identity of a city.


Urban Alphabets by Suse Miessner © Suse Miessner


Artist biography

Suse Miessner is a Helsinki-based artist, designer and researcher interested in the interrelationship of new technologies and people’s behaviour in contemporary public spaces. With her background in architecture and New Media she explores the boundaries and interrelationships of the disciplines but her main interest remains in the human dimension involved.
Since 2010 she has worked with different projects and installations that computationally analyze space in different ways. Furthermore her Master’s thesis in architecture at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany, entitled “Interacting in Public Space – How New Media Influence our Behavior on Public Space” develops a theoretical framework of how space, society, media and technology are interrelated and investigates how different forms of New Media influence public space in different ways.
Urban Alphabets is her Master’s thesis project at Media Lab Helsinki, Finland (MA in New Media). The intention is to explore people’s perception of space as it is influenced using the Urban Alphabets apps. This investigation aims to proof that smartphone apps do not have to be designed to cocoon their users from the surroundings but can instead establish a new sensation for –and interaction with- space.


Tech info

Smartphones, Custom-built application, Tablet(s), Media Façade, Custom Software