Julian Oliver's Tele-Cartography

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This year, Abandon Normal Devices, a festival of "new cinema, digital culture, and art," commissioned artist and Critical Engineer Julian Oliver to create Border Bumping, a self-professed work of dislocative media that utilizes the contradictions of cell phone signals and networks to rework national boundaries. Housed within a caravan known as a mobile cartography bureau, Border Bumping puts location data into a feedback loop with its visual representation, creating new geographies out of technical necessities. The project traces the terrain of an Earth imagined by communication technologies. It's an Earth where the map destroys and redefines the territory. As described on the website:

As we traverse borders our cellular devices hop from network to network across neighbouring territories, often before or after we ourselves have arrived. These moments, of our device operating in one territory whilst our body continues in another, can be seen to produce a new and contradictory terrain for action..

Running a freely available, custom-built smartphone application, Border Bumping agents collect cell tower and location data as they traverse national borders in trains, cars, buses, boats or on foot. Moments of discrepancy at the edges are logged and uploaded to the central Border Bumping server, at the point of crossing.

For instance: a user is in Germany but her device reports she is in France. The Border Bumping server will take this report literally and the French border is redrawn accordingly. The ongoing collection and rendering of these disparities results in an ever evolving record of infrastructurally antagonised territory, a tele-cartography.

The Border Bumping application can be downloaded and used on your own phone to visualize the new boundaries of your own movement through space.

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