23rd February 2024 6:28 am
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#RhodesHasFallen VoiceMap is a crowdfunded plan to make Cape Town statues speak

Tourism and social activism are two things that don’t often cross paths in public, but a former University of Cape Town student and journalist is hoping to combine the two to help educate residents and visitors in the Mother City by putting mini documentaries into their smartphones.

Rasmus Bitsch has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Thundafund for a #RhodesHasFallen VoiceMap Doccie that will allow you to listen to commentary, interviews and stories behind statues and public art in Cape Town.

“We were talking to the people from VoiceMap about different ways to use their technology and public art and old statues came up,” Bitsch says about the idea behind the project.

The technology behind VoiceMap works by matching GPS-technology and sound. This means that where you will essentially define what you hear and you can interact with the space you are physically in.

Bitsh worked with Cape Town media production company Sirius Tales and visual artist and film maker Dane Dodds to put the #RhodesHasFallen VoiceMap together. The project is set to is target smartphone users in and around the city bowl.

But why the focus on the aftermath of the statue saga? “I had been covering the statue debate and protests at UCT and felt there was more to this debate than was clear from the media coverage and social media,” Bitsh says.

“We all thought that a VoiceMap would be a great platform to go deeper into the matter and tell some interesting stories. Cape Town has such a multi-layered space and history and the debate about statues, art and heritage is essentially a debate about history, memory and space. And if a story about these things is available while you are actually in the space, what better way could there be to tell it?”.

More content will be added in future, including sound design that will integrate with interviews with a wide range of people including experts, artists, citizens and tourists.

Bitsh says the #RhodesHasFallen VoiceMap is the first of many such projects Sirius Tales will be embarking on as the company is constantly trying to find out how it can best tell stories in the digital age.

“For us it is important that the story defines the medium rather than the other way around. That goes for our own projects and projects we do for clients as well. So if a space you can walk around in is available and essential for a story, a VoiceMap could very well be the right way to tell it” he adds.

To help their crowdfunding campaign, Bitsh says the team has reached out to a few organisations in order to find a main sponsor. “When that happens we’re close to the tipping point of R17 500 and that will hopefully give us the push we need”.

But if they don’t reach the goal they would have to look at different ways of funding. “For us the funding part of the project is part of the experiment to explore new ways of storytelling, so we are happy to take the chance,” he says.

“So if you have any interest in what we commemorate and remember in Cape Town, I hope the VoiceMap will be interesting, entertaining and informative for users.”

The #RhodesHasFallen VoiceMap campaign has so far raised R1 475 and will close on the 22nd June.

[Image – CC Wikimedia Commons]

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