Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Orientation: Push/Pull
The Push/Pull exercise we have adopted is used in treatment for vertigo. Two people walk together, one pushing, and the other pulling by holding each other’s arms. The person being pushed closes their eyes. The person pushing narrates what they observe around them in a continual stream of association, while the person pulling allows themselves to be “steered” by the other. Not only does one have to rely on the other person for their visual sense of the world, but they start to separate the senses within themselves. Balance is no longer achieved through visual orientation; it shifts to the legs, the sense of sound, and importantly, the physical proximity of one person to another. The exercise immediately disassociates all these elements and forces the sensory system to reorient itself in real time.
This has led to several projects where the students employ some kind of presence and absence by eliminating or displacing one sense – whether it be sight, or sound. Pairs of students were asked to walk around a block. One partner would lead another who wore a blindfold. They were taken to specific locations on the block, where the student with vision would describe the location in detail. The blindfolded student used their cell phone to call a phone number in order to narrate what they imagined would be in that location in ten years. The result was an audio repository of the imagined block in ten years, mapped to location.
In another exercise, called Body, Movement, Environment, two students set out to explore how the body correlates to the physical landscape and everyday places and objects in unexpected ways. Related to the French game of Parkour, an activity that is based on moving from one point to another as directly as possible - overcoming the obstacles of fences, walls, or gaps - these students encountered all the physical obstacles in a block radius. They sought to discover how their bodies created a new spatial experience, which they mapped to place via photographic documentation and video displayed in a monitor. The students here are asked to explore their relationship to the everyday environment, their sensory orientation, and embodied sense of place.
The work of the artist Akitsugu Mayebayashi, in his project Sonic Interface, suggests some of the sensory alteration we may yet encounter in the future. Sonic Interface is a portable hearing device that is made from headphones, microphones, and a laptop computer. The participant is invited to walk around the city, and experiences modified sonic environments processed real time from the sounds it picks up. Mayebayashi has focused on the auditory sense as an interface between the body and the environment. By uncoupling sound from vision, his project questions what we assume as "real". "Presence" requires the constant stabilizing and synchronizing of vision and sound; an uncoupling of the two opens up the possibility for other presences, other experiences of "self." This separation also importantly has the effect of destabilizing the experience of "place."

Mobile Audience

Great blog by Martin Rieser, Artist, Theorist and Educator


Teri Rueb

Her work here.

Four Questions on the Mobile Audience Blog

Site Specifics

The philosopher Michel de Certeau, wrote a book called "The Practice of Everyday Life" which is on the Locative Media Bibiligraphy that was published by the Leonardo (MIT) eJournal.

In this book, he says that "space is a practiced place." What he means by that, is that urban planning writes a specific meaning onto place. The direction of roadways, the areas of division in economic strata (where rich people live, where poverty lives etc), the location of the city functions (post office, hospital, train station, etc). So, what de Certeau is saying is that place becomes space when it becomes active, when it becomes inhabited. The daily action of everyday life, in all its detail, shifts the meaning of place from its monolithic, static meanings, to those that are human, social, fluid, always changing. Even our experience of place is determined by how long we are in a location. "Thus the street geometrically defined by urban planning is transformed into space by walkers." "Space as a practiced place, admits of unpredictability." "If space is like the word when it is spoken, then a single place will be realized in successive, multiple and even irreconcilable spaces." Think of Patrick's score..."In comparing 'pedestrian processes to linguistic formations" de Certeau states that.. to walk is to lack a place." Think of Patrick's score done again as a walking score in the city...

The anthropological understanding of place, is "formed by the individual identities, through complicities of language. local references, the unformulated rules of living know-how" (Auge/reading p.9), where one's location or position is known. Non-place is produced by passing-over place. Non-place designates two complementary but distinct realities formed in relation to certain, say, mobile or transitory ends (transport, transit, commerce, leisure) and relations that individuals have with these places. For example, the train station: all the people who pass through it, sometimes regularly, as in commuters, and those people who work there - selling tickets, working at the coffee shop, cleaning up, etc.

On page 11 of the reading is an important point:

Place and non-place re rather like opposed polarities: the first is never completely erased, the second never totally completed; they are like palimpsets on which the scrambled game of identity and relations is ceaselessly rewritten. But non-places are the real measure of our time. (Auge 1995)

A palimpset is a paper that has been written on twice, the original having been wiped out.

One Neighborhood Narratives project by a student at NYU addressed the Palimpset:

The project, titled Palimpsest FM, consisted of a device that houses a hidden speaker which plays back the sounds of the same spot from an earlier time, anywhere from thirty seconds to a day before. The replayed recording serves as an audio version of a palimpsest, a proof of what had been there before. Using sound as her medium, the student created a nearly seamless overlapping of past and present where the sounds of today cannot be discerned from the sounds of the past. Like a palimpsest, it will be unclear where the past ends and the present begins.

Gaston Bachelard (in his book, Poetics of Space) speaks of centering oneself in stable surroundings, but if your surroundings are constantly in flux (and also incidentally not just your surroundings) like they are in New York, it is no wonder a sense of ontological anxiety can result. New York City has often been described as a place where the physical environment changes so quickly that rebuilding without being able to erase what came before it becomes very obvious to anyone who has lived there
long enough to call New York their home. “You’ve become a New Yorker once you have the urge to point out a place and say, “that used to be . . .” The “that used to be . . .” that every New Yorker expresses is part of the inerasable past that is being built over, it is an expression of memory of a piece of their home and consequently a piece of their identities that is gone but not forgotten. It is embodied in the senses. The urge to tell others what used to be is an attempt to reassert one’s identity and the home they had carved out of the city. This project serves as another means of describing the “that used to be.” But instead of
subjectively telling the narrative of one person’s New York, it objectively captures what the place witnessed. The audio palimpsest played back in this project serves as a kind of memorial of what used to be in the immediate past. It stands to
commemorate the same everyday New York that its citizens quietly mourn when it is torn down and built over. It memorializes the trivial happenings that many may overlook, but still plays an important role in a place’s narrative and consequently a
person’s identity. By placing Palimpsest FM in Washington Square Park under the shadow of the statue of Garibaldi and the Washington Arch, a comparison can be drawn between the monuments that commemorate the selective history of the
victors to one that records and replays all voices of the city equally. The neighborhood narrative can then become more complete as it plays back everything it hears.

The original prototype for this project was made with a recording device in one of those "record your own message" talking greeting cards.

The last mention from the Site-Specific reading is the last paragraph where it says, "It is in such contexts that site-specific art frequently works to "touble" the opposition between the site and the work. Trouble is meant as critique, question, or to even create a problem, but all with the aim of heightening the exchange between the site and the work.


The Following exercise was inspired by both Janet Cardiff’s audio walks (Two of which are Walk Münster by Janet Cardiff with Georges Bures Miller, 1997. Skulpture Project Münster 97, curated by Kasper König, Münster, Germany and The Missing Voice (Case Study B) byJanet Cardiff with Georges Bures Miller, 1999. Whitechapel Library organized by Artangel, London, England, June 17 – Nov. 27, 1999.) an example of the expressive, generative version of ambulant geo-notative locative art practice; and Sophie Calle’s Suite Vénitienne, where she used a conceptual strategy to create a document with photos providing evidence of her search to Venice to look for a stranger she met at a party. One student chose to follow five different people at his usual stop on the subway. Three of these people were “intimate strangers”, people he had observed frequently on his route, but
whom he did not know. Two people he followed, as a first encounter. He documented the experience of each trajectory, the time and distance traveled the fantasies and assumptions of each life, housing them all in a web-based map project.

Jean Baudrillard writes,
“To follow the other is to take charge of his itinerary; it is to watch over his life without him knowing it. It is to play the mythical role of the shadow, which, traditionally follows you and protects you from the sun – the man without a shadow is exposed to the violence of life without mediation – it is to relieve him of that existential burden, the responsibility of his own life. Simultaneously, she who follows is herself relieved of responsibility for her own life as she follows blindly in the footsteps of another. Again, a wonderful reciprocity exists in the cancellation of each existence, in the cancellation of each subject’s tenuous position as a subject” (1983 p.82).

Somewhat similarly, the responses of past students to the assignment ranged from one student’s realization that in her heart she loved to follow people – in fact, she realized that she had quite an “affinity for following people.” A city where walking is the main mode of transportation constantly puts people face to face, often the same people over and over. Since she moved to New York, it had frustrated her to find herself constantly surrounded by people she recognized but had never met. This assignment was her chance to figure out who these people really are. Yet, once she was asked to turn her curiosity into an exercise, the idea of following turned sour. She said, “I felt like I was invading not only their physical space, but their mental space too.”

A different reaction was elicited from another student, who was extremely threatened by the idea of following someone and allowing someone else’s physical itinerary to determine her movement in the city. Her sense of territory had distinct
racial and economic boundaries that determined her awareness of safety. Following another route was deeply disturbing. Her solution was to solicit the help of a friend to go with her. However, throughout the experience of following someone on an unfamiliar route, she commented that she had to “watch her back,” which became the next exercise for the class.

The Following exercise is similar to the Loca (Location Oriented Critical Arts) project. According to Evans et.al. Loca was initiated out of an interest in how surveillance and social control emerge as a residue or unforeseen effect of virtuous information systems and network technologies. Loca observes people's movements by tracking the position of the Bluetooth enabled devices that they carry. Over seven days more than two thousand five hundred people were detected enabling the team to build up a detailed picture of their movements. People were sent messages from a stranger with intimate knowledge of their motion. Over the course of the week the messages became gradually more sinister, the would-be friend mutating into stalker, "coffee later?" changing to "r u ignoring me?" For participants the experience of Loca is intangible, it unearths
what is not seen. The aim is subtle affect. As the developers note, “Loca is like a picture glanced at sideways, a message caught in the corner of the eye, or a mosquito swatted on the arm (http://www.loca-lab.org/).” It makes apparent the
kind of peer to peer observations that become possible as a result of the discomforts and dislocations associated with everyday surveillance.

Critical Vehicles

Krzyysztof Wodiczko, in his book Critical Vehicles, discusses his art work over the span of his career, all of it highly political in nature. What Wodiczko focuses on is designing for human interaction, and human relationship. What he higlights is the binary of power: victor/vanquished. This type of binary analysis of social space can easily be understood in relation to race and gender. What is interesting about his Prophet's Prothesis, is the idea of a doubling - the real person and the media double, both simultaneously walking through the city. Here we have the Derive or Drift retranslated through the integration of media. Inside/outside, real/virtual. These types of binaries fuse together so that the doubled experience creates a whole. Conceptually very interesting. One could even conceive of the doubled self - the real and virtual as a ying/yang.

On p. 13, his design summary could be considered a manifesto. He has articulated a social problem that he is trying to solve through design.

What we have said in this class, is that design solves problems. One must first identify the problem and then create the design to solve it.

After Photography by Fred Ritchin

...with information about Spellbbinder and Photosynth


Monday, October 5, 2009

A Brief History of Maps

A brief history of maps with some great map links!


An explanation of the Cartesian Co-ordinate system


Book: Wayfinding Behavior: Cognitive Mapping and other Spatial Practices

Google MyMaps - How to

Go to Google – Maps.

You will see the options for Get Directions or MyMaps.

Go to Google – Maps.

Click on MyMaps

Click on Create New Map

You will be able to give a title to your map and a description. You will also have a complete set of tools available in the Map area (see hand, balloon, line or shaded area). You can drip a balloon on any location and you can use the lines to connect the balloons or to create a route or radius. And you can move everything with the hand.

You can also select your privacy settings for public or private.

If you move a balloon icon to a location that you choose, a little menu will present itself. You can give the location a name and description. If you click on RICH TEXT on top of the text box, you will get a full blog toolbar. If you would like to add a photo, you can link it from Flickr by clicking on the Picture Icon and adding the url from the Flickr picture (Click on the image in Flcikr and then All Sizes, and url will be on the bottom of the page).

So, in other words, if this is going to be a photo story, you have to upload your images to Flickr..

World Trade Center Sonic Memorial

Ephemeral Place


Janet Cardiff - Walks

Here is the link for Janet Cardiff and her husband Georges Bures Miller. If you look at the site and listen to some of the audio, I think you will find it interesting. It may give you some ideas for your own projects.


Sound Maps - Tenement Museum Folk songs

Check this out as a sound map of New York

Folk Songs for the Five Points

Richard Long




The Situationist International and Guy Debord experimented in the 1950s by wandering around urban cities, recording the emotional pulse emitting from the metropolis. Known as drifting, these artists would chart human experience to a geographic map to create psychogeography.

Emotional Maps - Assignment

1) Map your... somehow...
2) Gogglemap your....
3) Using technological tools, map your... without using Goggle Maps or any Google product.

Tool Kit

Ning (or group)
GPS (if available)
Cell phones
anything else?

Yi Fu Tuan - Space and Place

From the paper "Neighborhood Narratives, New Dialogues With/in the Mediated City", by Hana Iverson and Rickie Sanders. 2008.

Place, according to Yi Fu Tuan (1977) combines a sense of position within society and a sense of identity with a spatial location. Places have historically been viewed as physical sites, with natural and emotional endowments that speak to the limits of human freedom. Not only are our human identities bound up with the hills and valleys in which we live but our very humanness and humanity is bound in this way. It is place that gives rise to humanness – in the form of feelings, attachments, longing, nostalgia, desire, melancholy, and fear.

... Space is perhaps best thought of as a three dimensional void where things are held to exist only if they occupy volume. Location based technologies negate the consideration of volume and view space along the lines of abstract Cartesianism.

...Similarly, beginning with the 16th century, the conception of space which relied on the Cartesian coordinate system set in motion a marginalization of place. Space with its numerical properties was regarded as absolute and infinite. Thus it was perceived as scientific and crucial to the goal of imperialism.

...Certain activities are accorded special spatial status, while others are not. Driving a truck is spatial (hence, work), talking on the phone is less spatial (hence, bureaucratic), and pondering an idea is simply ethereal (Sack, 1980, p. 17) hence, indolent.

Yi Fu Tuan refers to the kind of properties that create a sense of place. He also questions, what is space, and how does one have a sense of spaciousness? In what ways do people attach meaning to space and place? The answer goes beyond the cultural; there are certain "animal" relationships to space and place... one could say, embodied senses of how we orient ourselves to space and place. We are interested in how space and place are understood, so that we can question how technology disorients our sense of space and place, or amplifies our sense of space and place.

Three themes run through Yi Fu Tuans book:

1) The biological facts

2) The relations of space and place

3) The range of experience or knowledge.

He amplifies these themes on page 6 of the Introduction.

Chapter 2 focuses on the Experiential Perspective. Experience is made up of sensation, perception and conception. These influence on a continuum, emotion and thought.

Experience is directed to the external world. Seeing and thinking clearly reach out beyond the self. Feeling however, reflects the way in which the self is inwardly affected. (p. 9).

This is important to think about because as you come to define your own experiences, it helps you think about how to design experiences for other people. The final project will be the result of a complex experience design.

tactile perception is at the extreme opposite of visual perception. The skin is able to convey certain spatial ideas and can do so without the support of other senses, depending on the structure of the body and the ability to move. (p. 14)

Sounds, though vaguely located, can convey a strong sense of size (volume) and of distance. For example, in an empty cathedral the sound of footsteps tapping sharply on the stone floor creates an impression of cavernous vastness. (p15)

(which makes me think of the creative possibilities of sound to create, record or alter space.)

Three principal types of space (p. 17), with large areas of overlap, exist - the mythical, the pragmatic, and the abstract or theoretical. Mythical space is a conceptual schema, but it is also pragmatic space in the sense that within that schema a large number of practical activities, such as planting and harvesting of crops, are ordered. A difference between mythical and pragmatic space is that the latter is defined by a more limited set of economic activities.... When an ingenious person tries to describe the soil pattern cartographically, by means of symbols, a further move toward the conceptual mode occurs. In the Western world systems of geometry - that is highly abstract spaces - have been created out of primal experiences. Thus sensorimotor and tactile experiences would seem to lie at the root of Euclid's theorems concerning shape congruence and the parallelism of distant lines; and visual perception is the basis for projective geometry. (p.17)

(so how would you design an experience that would separate the senses, and give a single sense experience of space. )

An object or place achieves concrete reality when our experience of it is total, that is, through all the senses as well as with the active and reflective mind. (p. 18)

(How can you deconstruct a place to recreate it as a new, whole, concrete experience?)

Spatial Ability, Knowledge and Place

P. 68 - Walking is a skill, but if I can "see" myself walking and if I hold that picture in mind sp that I can analyze how I move and what path I am following, then I also have knowledge. That knowledge is transferable to another person through EXPLICIT INSTRUCTION IN WORDS, WITH DIAGRAMS, AND IN GENERAL BY SHOWING HOW COMPLEX MOTION consists of parts that can be analyzed or imitated.

P. 73 - When space feels thoroughly familiar to us, it has become place. Kinesthetic and perceptual experience as well as the ability to form concepts are required for the change if the space is large.

How well do you relate to small or large spaces? Do you become disoriented in large spaces? How would you design an experience that relates small and large spaces so that the viewer/user has to orient through some kind of maze like experience to orient themselves.

What are the spaces that have become places for you?

Leonardo Locative Media Issue

can be found here.

and the bibliography here.

C++ The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William J. Mitchell

A wonderful review of the book is here.

Guglielomo Marconi invented the radio. That transmission has now exploded into a dense, global web of wireless infrastructure; "if you counted all of its terrestial, satelite and spacecraft linkage, it is now humankind's most extensive construction." (Mitchell, p.2) Simultaneously, the reception devise has scaled down to a fashion accessory.

"My natural skin is just layer zero of a nested boundary structure." (p.7) In the early years of the Cold War, outer defensive casements re-emerged, in extreme form, as domestic nuclear bunkers. The destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the end of that edgy era...

"All of my boundaries depend for their effectiveness, upon sufficient capacity to attenuate flow with sufficient thickness." (p.8)

Georg Simmel was a German social scientist who observed that "a connecting creature who must always separate and who cannot connect without separating."

"To create and maintain differences between interiors and exteriors of enclosures... I seek to control these networked flows." (p.9)

The discontinuities produced by networks result from the drive for efficiency, safety and security....

"You can pause wherever you want when you are strolling along a dirt track (DRIFT), but you must use stations for trains, entry and exit ramps for freeways, and airports for airline networks - and your experience of the terrain between these points is very limited. You experience the architectural transitions between floors when you climb the stairs, but you go into architectural limbo between the opening and closing of the doors when you use an elevator."

"Now the body/city metaphors have turned concrete and literal. Embedded within a vast structure of nested boundaries and ramifying networks, my muscular and skeletal, physiiological, and nervous systems have been artificially augmented and expanded." (p.19)

"Telephones... are yet another network of infrastructure - one that now stretches my speech production and reception system around the globe and multiplied its points of presence...

You were never quite sure who would pick up on the other end, and the relationship to our bodies as neither continuous or intimate." (p.24, 25)

I am both a surveying subject at the center of my electronic web and the object of multi-modal electronic surveillance. All of these constructions of the gaze that the post-Foucaultians have alerted us to - the gaze of desire, the gendered gaze, the consumer's gaze, the critical gaze, the reflexive gaze, and certainly the gaze of power - are extended, reorganized, and reconstructed electronically." (p28)

The Bag Exercise

Dump all of your stuff that is in your bag on the floor. Take a snapshot. Narrate the topography of "what you carry with you." The mobile version of Pockets Full of Memories, an interactive exhibit by George Legrady.

A later project that refers to the idea of everyday archeology and streets full of memories is
One Block Radius by a group of artists in Brooklyn, NY called Glow Lab.

The Archeology of Everyday Life

Daniel Spoerri and The Anecdoted Topography of Chance

are a prime example of Fluxus aesthetic - chance, happening, do-it-yourself.

The 20th century avante-garde art movements such as Fluxus influenced the Situationists, who are the precursors and spiritual inspiration for Locative Media.

Neighborhood Narratives


In Neighborhood Narratives, the urban landscape is a canvas where analogue and digital media, text, sound, and image are applied to real places in order to document the definable aspects of place that simultaneously reveal and construct their essence and trigger authentic engagement. The goal is to create a set of site specific annotations; such as sound maps, community histories augmented by websites, audio interviews authored and distributed over the cell phone, site specific installations that integrate radio and other communications technology, scavenger hunts along with many other types of combinations that when connected would produce a neighborhood narrative. This process encourages participants to combine the skills of the storyteller (the grounded expert with detailed everyday knowledge) with the flaneur (the mobile observer of the city with a broad overview).

Neighborhood Narratives uses alternative technologies, basic mobile recording devices, on-line open-source tools such as blogging, and Google Maps along with analog resources such as sketch maps to produce context rich stories that portray the world, city, or neighborhood. In Neighborhood Narratives we explore the real and metaphorical potentialities of mapping, walking, and wayfinding as methods of developing attachments, connecting, and constructing narratives in a virtual and spatial locality (neighborhood).

The final assignments are presented on location in the city.