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How unstable coordinates can be

By Rhizome

You Are Here: Museu (MACBA, Barcelona; 1995) by Laura Kurgan is a very relevant (and early) project about locative media that I ran across recently; via Alex Terzich’s contribution to the book “Else/Where: Mapping -- New Cartographies of Networks and Territories“, (Univ Minnesota Design Institute).

In the fall of 1995, the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona became both the subject of, and the surface on which to register, the flows and displays of the GPS digital mapping network. “You Are Here: Museu” installed a real-time feed of GPS satellite positioning data, from an antenna located on the roof of the gallery and displayed in it, together with the record of mapping data collected in September, in light boxes and inscribed onto the walls of the gallery.

What is great is that the artist represented the scatter of points caused by the uncertainty/discrepancies of the system (either caused by interferences and military scramblings (which is certainly of interest for Fabien’s project):

Where we are, these days, seems less a matter of fixed locations and stable reference points, and more a matter of networks, which is to say of displacements and transfers, of nodes defined only by their relative positions in a shifting field. Even standing still, we operate at once in a number of overlapping and incommensurable networks, and so in a number of places — at once.
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The possibilities of disorientation, not in the street or on the roof but precisely in the database that promises orientation, are of an entirely different order, and GPS offers the chance to begin mapping some of these other highways as well: drift in the space of information.

In terms of “blogjects”-related concept I like this too:

The network is a machine for leaving traces, and so we can draw with satellites. The record of the interaction appears at the foot of each display: the identifying numbers of the NAVSTAR satellites, the time spent in contact with them, the number of data points collected by the receiver. What remains of that correspondence is something like a line, a sequence of points that registers the movement of the receiver across some physical space. But the line that results [Line], what is left over not exactly from a relation between given places but rather from the transmission of data, charts more than one drifting pathway

Why do I blog this? because I like this interactive art project and how it addresses pertinent questions related with geolocation. Of course, nowadays GPS is less likely to have troubles it had in 1995 but there are still flaws (there will always be limitations, at least with this technology); so representing them is curious from an human-computer interaction viewpoint.

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