Networked_Performance

Locative Media Art

locativemedia.jpgFrom Locative Media Summer Conference: PORTAGE: Locative Media at the Intersection of Art, Design and Social Practice [PDF] by Geoffrey Shea and Paula Gardner :: Locative Arts and Locative Activism by Drew Hemment [PDF] :: Locative Media as Critical Urbanism by Mark Shepard [PDF].

PORTAGE: Locative Media at the Intersection of Art, Design and Social Practice: The ongoing research of academics, artists, designers, students and engineers at the Mobile Experience Lab at the Ontario College of Art & Design has created a broad and inclusive methodology that seeks to address the impact of emerging media technologies, current theoretical discourses, and the value of user participation in the resulting creations.

In this current artist/designer driven research project, PORTAGE, a short street in downtown Toronto will be converted into a virtual theatre. Users with a broad range of ‘mobile devices’ will be able to interact with participatory content experiences: spraying virtual graffiti on wall, turning surveillance cameras back on themselves, collaboratively remixing music tracks through choreography, or exploring the history of the specific locale. Users equipped with highly capable devices (e.g. with Bluetooth and GPS) will have one level of engagement, but others with simple voice or text capable phones will be able to access the experiences on another level. Even visitors with no device will be able to participate: by banging a steel drum for example, and creating a digital signal in collaboration with other online users.

This project emerges out of other successful locative media creation at the lab and extends a methodology that includes: (1) active brainstorming with artists, designers and engineers; (2) breaking down projects into their component concepts, technologies and techniques and recombining them in new and unexpected ways; (3) – blending established context paradigms (narrative, documentary, gaming) with real-time interactions (co-creation, iterative development, content uploading)

As an example, one user experience included in this streetscape theatre will be I Spy, a video surveillance experience. In the first iteration users will be able to review the content of a dozen cameras which inhabit the environment, seeing and revealing themselves as they are seen and revealed by the private and public interests that typically invest in surveillance. Signal strength will determine which vantage is displayed on the user’s device, so simply walking the street will result in a game of ‘find the spy-cam. A subsequent iteration, however, will blend the current images with historical images from different significant periods in the city’s past, placing the user in the middle of another event. Beyond that we will introduce scripted narratives, sound, and nighttime versions of the experience.

The goal of PORTAGE is to combine the diverse skills of all the collaborators to address pressing social issues, investigate innovative social interactions (i.e. a digital commons) facilitated by mobile media, create unique technological platforms that can support the content creation, and deliver to the user a meaningful and new experiences that speak to the unique time and space possibilities of mobile media .

Locative Arts and Locative Activism by Drew Hemment

As a part of a 3 year study on the shifting boundaries between art practice, the event and data systems, I took part in a series of workshops and online discussions in 2003 which helped to elaborate the field of locative media. Consolidating these interests, the Mobile Connections exhibition within Futuresonic 2004 sought to explore forms of expression that are intrinsic or unique to mobile and wireless media, and that led to the proposition that, just as net art is the art of the Internet, so locative art can be understood to be the art of mobile and wireless systems. Following this a taxonomy of locative media arts was written, which distinguished between mapping, ambulatory and geoannotation projects that were primarily documentary, figurative or social. Locative media contains a strongly social moment, and much early interest focused on the notion of ‘social interfaces to places’ (Russell). However, criticisms of locative media have highlighted how much of the field works with a very narrow, technologically deterministic understanding of location and with little or no engagement in lived spaces and social context. Locative media created an opportunity to look anew at public art and other spatial practices, and also has energised an interdisciplinary thinking of the city. Two outcomes of this were Loca: Set To Discoverable, an arts-based group project on grass-roots, pervasive surveillance which combined art installation, software engineering, activism, pervasive design, hardware hacking, SMS poetry, sticker art and ambient performance, and the Urban Play strand of the Futuresonic festival which seeks to reimagine, free and make strange the city through collaborative art and technology practice.

Locative Media as Critical Urbanism by Mark Shepard [PDF]

If public space was once considered the geography of the public sphere–as a physical place where people come together to voice and discuss matters of public concern (Habermas, 1992)–today the two are perceived as increasingly separate domains. In New York, for example, long before the events of 9/11 and the clamp-down on civil liberties by legislation such as the US Patriot Act, the curtailment of popular uses of public space was well under way (Low and Smith, 2005). With the reaction to the liberalism of 1960s politics, the onslaught of neoliberalism in the 1980s and the concurrent rise of the public-private partnership, Mayor Rudy Giulliani’s “zerotolerance” policy, and the more recent Disneyfication of “new” 42nd Street, state and corporate strategies had already begun to whittle away conditions supporting the free and open use of urban public space. Access to (and behavior within) public space have become subject to ever-greater regulation.

During the same period, we witnessed a corresponding displacement of the public sphere to the immaterial nodes and networks of electronic media and information systems. “The public”, “publics” and “public opinion” are today formed more through cable and network news channels, Internet blogs and websites than on the sidewalks, streets, cafes, parks or shopping arcades of the contemporary city. Online
social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook have replaced the street or the mall as the preferred place to “see, be seen, and connect” for today’s youth. Sociable web media such as Flickr enable forms of media sharing and exchange previously unimaginable in physical space. We are witnessing today the devaluation of physically localized public space in favor of a globally networked public sphere.

The experience of material public space, on the other hand, has been radically transformed with the proliferation of mobile and pervasive media technologies throughout the physical space of the city. The use of mobile phones and audio devices like the iPod provide varying degrees of privacy within urban space, affording the speaker/listener certain exceptions to conventions for social interaction within the public domain, absolving them from some responsibility for what is happening around them (Ito, 2006; Bull 2000). Talking on a mobile phone while walking down the sidewalk, text-messaging with a friend while on the bus, or listening to an iPod on the subway are everyday practices for organizing space, time and the boundaries around the body in public. To a certain degree, these practices contribute to a “retreat” of the modern citizen from the public realm. Urban public space, and the unpredictability of the encounters nominally found there, ceases to function as a site for the tensions, frictions and interactions so vital to a democratic society.

If we understand space as something that is produced through social practices (Lefebvre, 1991; Certeau, 2002), then new spatial possibilities emerge along with new practices. At the dawn of an age of ubiquitous computing and an “Internet of Things”, when everyday objects and spaces are in the process of being networked with computational intelligence, new techno-social practices are emerging. Recent technological developments in location-based services, the geospatial web, and the field of Locative Media are introducing novel ways by which immaterial bits of media and information are tied to physical locations in urban public space. These technosocial practices have the potential to generate new hybrid spaces and forms of public participation that reconnect the material dimensions of urban public space with the participatory affordances of the networked public sphere. Yet if Locative Media is to be considered in terms of its potential to address these social and political contexts, its practices need to be evaluated in the larger framework of everyday life and urban public space. Only then can it move beyond the production of novel experiences for limited (art) audiences, and critically engage the social and political realities of contemporary cities.

More here.


Sep 4, 15:52
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2 Responses

  1. rb.trends» Blog Archive » Exploring the street:

    […]  Locative Media Art“Users with a broad range of ?mobile devices? will be able to interact with participatory content experiences: spraying virtual graffiti on wall, turning surveillance cameras back on themselves, collaboratively remixing music tracks through choreography, or exploring the history of the specific locale. Users equipped with highly capable devices (e.g. with Bluetooth and GPS) will have one level of engagement, but others with simple voice or text capable phones will be able to access the experiences on another level. Even visitors with no device will be able to participate: by banging a steel drum for example, and creating a digital signal in collaboration with other online users.” Networked_Performance […]


  2. Lab.Report #0017 [Pre-Conflux 2007 Edition] : mimi:

    […] has just ended, but the event’s site provides ample reading for those unable to attend (via Networked Performance). Currently taking place in Berlin, New York – States of Mind is certainly not to be missed. On […]


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