“Loca: Set To Discoverable” by John Evans, Drew Hemment, Mika Raento, Theo Humphries

  • ©2003-2006, John Evans, Drew Hemment, Mika Raento, and Theo Humphries, Loca: Set To Discoverable


    Loca: Set To Discoverable

Artist(s) and People Involved:



Creation Year:


Artist Statement:

    Loca: Set To Discoverable is an artist-led interdisciplinary project on mobile media and surveillance.

    A person walking through the city centre hears a beep on their phone and glances at the screen. Instead of an SMS alert they see a message reading:

    We are currently experiencing difficulties monitoring your position: please wave your network device in the air.”

    Loca: Set To Discoverable sets out to expose the disconnect between people and the trail of digital identities they leave behind. Loca opens up a conversation with passers by, responding to urban semantics, the social meanings of particular places:

    You walked past a flower shop and spent 30 minutes in the park, are you in love?

    Whereas many Locative art projects are about positioning, Loca is interested in the spaces between readings, the distance between embodied spatial experience and its digital representation.

    A major component of the Loca project is the deployment of a cluster of interconnected, self-sufficient Bluetooth nodes that enable Loca to track anyone with any device that has Bluetooth set to discoverable. Inferences based on analysis of the data guide communication with these Bluetooth users. Other components include maps that illustrate people’s habits as inferred by data collected by the Loca network, strap-on devices that alert users to detect otherwise anonymous Bluetooth scans, stickers that allow people to record the presence of digital identities in their physical environment, and the surveillance or counter-surveillance of Loca pack.

    Loca is an exercise in everyday surveillance, tracking digital bodies in physical space. It explores an emerging ecology of disclosure and surveillance that has arisen with developments in mobile and pervasive media. It looks at what happens when it is easy for everyone to track everyone, when surveillance can be effected by consumer level technology within peer-to-peer networks without being routed through a central point.

    Pervasive surveillance has the potential to be both sinister and positive, at the same time. The intent is to equip people to deal with the ambiguity and find their own conclusions.


    The premier presentation of Loca: Set To Discoverable was possible due to the generous support of:

    Arts Council England. Development of Loca was funded by
    Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as a part of a three year Research Fellowship.

    Support was also received from:

    British Council,
    University of Salford, Department of Computer Science,
    University of Helsinki; Medialab,
    University of Art and Design Helsinki; Basic Research Unit,
    Helsinki Institute of Information Technology HIIT; and
    Ubiquitous Interaction, Helsinki Institute of Information Technology HIIT.

Other Information:

    Partners in the project are 3eyes and Future Everything.