Text by John Lampard
Postcodes, so we are told, speed the delivery of mail. And while that may, or may not, be the case, there is just a little more to these apparently innocuous four digit numbers than seemingly meets the eye.
Not only useful in just the Post Office sorting room, postcodes can also act as a classification system of sorts, clandestinely determining anything from the overall cost of insurance policies, to our perceived social standing.
Do you pay more for your motor vehicle insurance than your colleagues? Never invited to those A–list parties? Well, just maybe, it has something to do with your postcode.
Postcodes, and other classification numbers and codes, and the growing significance they have in defining who we are, were part of a creative brief given to National Institute of Design student, Rodney Zandbergs, in 2005.
Students were required to look at their surroundings in Melbourne, and record the stories they discovered on film. Rodney, who is studying the masters program at the Swinburne University based institution, created The Postcode Project as a response to this brief.
“The intention was to have students take a closer look at our suburbs in Melbourne, and capture stories from them on film,” says Rodney.
“It was an open brief that did not require the films to necessarily feature dialogue or actors – although some did – the outcomes could be quite artistic or abstract, just so long as there was a narrative present that had something to say about our surroundings and perhaps the way in which much in our lives has been reduced to classification numbers or shorthand codes.”
Despite being a long time fan of film, and his involvement in The Postcode Project, Rodney, also a web designer at Lonely Planet, does not presently have any intentions of pursuing a career in film production.
“Having studied multimedia design broadly for several years, I have touched upon a lot of interesting areas, such as sound and film production,” says Rodney, whose favourite film directors include Ridley Scott, Jane Campion and Zhang Yimou.
“Fascinating as film-making is, nowadays I really want to focus on, or specialize in, certain areas that relate to what I am doing professionally, that is, web design. With this project I set out to support the work of my classmates rather than contribute directly to the content.”
There are currently five short films, produced by classmates of Rodney, featured as part of the Postcode Project, and are made using Flash Video format (FLV), that streams on demand. And while Melbourne and its suburbs are currently the central focus, this may change in the future.
Rodney also says it may be possible for other people interested in film-making, not necessarily design students, to participate if they wish. This could be under another, separate, incarnation of the idea though, since Swinburne University is the effective owner of the current project.
“If another version of The Postcode Project was to evolve, I would encourage the involvement of specialist film-makers, or film-making students. I wouldn’t necessarily want to put more design students through the pain of creating short movies, as it really is a specialist area. Having said that, a variety of contributors always makes for an interesting collection of films.”
People interested in participating in this project are welcome to contact Rodney via The Postcode Project website.