Art Project Meets Scavenger Hunt in PhotoChaining

Article excerpt

Byline: Melissa Rayworth Associated Press

Next time you step into a taxi or sit down in a restaurant, take a good look around. You might stumble across a digital memory card not lost or stolen, but left there deliberately for you to find.

Dont worry: This isnt international espionage, or a drug drop gone awry. Its a piece of Renaud Deharengs latest online creation, a global art project and scavenger hunt called PhotoChaining.

The rules, should you wish to join in, are simple: Take some photos with an inexpensive memory card, then place the card in a clear plastic sandwich bag. Include a note identifying the card (give it a one-word name) and ask the person who finds it to upload one image to PhotoChaining.com.

Once thats done, the person who found the card begins the process anew, keeping the cards name but filling it with fresh images to be found by yet another stranger.

"My hope is to make the project universal," says 33-year-old Dehareng, via e-mail from his home in Brussels.

His goals, he says, are "fun, culture, and especially promotion of creativity."

So far, the project is small. In the months since the site was launched, images from 24 cards have been uploaded. Theyve popped up in European and U.S. cities, and three cards (named Ben, Franz and Lola) have been used twice.

Others may have been dropped and not yet found, or perhaps pocketed by someone more interested in a free memory card than a global game of lost-and-found.

"Its nice to know that the same memory card could take a photo of Central Park one day," says Dehareng, "and five days later a photo of the opera in Sydney."

But will any of the cards get to make that trip? Or will PhotoChaining get lost in the overcrowded marketplace that is the Internet?

At the well-trafficked sites bookcrossing.com and wheresgeorge.com, you can follow the progress of a book or dollar bill that was once in your possession. …