Walkingtools Concepts: Locative Media Art

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  • Workshop Statement

    Spatialized location is not new – it is a fundamental aspect of human wayfinding cognition. From ancient and early historical practices such as song lines, Polynesian maritime navigation and religious pilgrimage routes that link one shrine to the next holy site, networks of nodes and scattered cues assisting navigation seem to be beyond culture. Researchers in the field of human cognition would generally agree: although it is a coarse statement in light of the finer granularity of knowledge of human spatial cognition, our species is fundamentally a navigator of networks of spatial nodes, or cognitive maps. Maybe for the first time in the history of knowledge, in the beginning of the hypertext era (what we can also call the Internet) the idea of having multiple points of information that could share many parts of the same text, image or video provided, came into use as tools to organize all human content in terms of information. The hypertext is a means of questioning the idea of the total point of view, i.e. it is impossible to find or know the complete version of some fact, artifact, or experience. In this sense, when we transport this idea to the world through geospatial hypertext, we invite others to share a highly subjective point of view with us, through open means of sharing knowledge about our geographical location or place of residence to invent a new subjective relation between the space and the information. The Walkingtools and the HiperGps Projects (2009, Silva and Stalbaum) are aimed at providing desktop production tools that enable creative people to produce mediated routes for others to play back or follow using their own mobile phones. It allows creators to produce searchable and easily sharable walks. In the history of locative media, early innovators such as Teri Rueb (1999) invented their own systems that enabled them to create mediated walking experiences. Geo-annotative projects such as Handheld Histories as Hyper-Monuments (2007) by Carmin Karasic, Rolf van Gelder and Rob Coshow furthermore allowed users to add their own thoughts and interpretations to an artist-designed, hot spot triggered, mediated geospace. Open source platforms for the production and sharing of such mediated walks have yet to emerge. HiperGps addresses the production tool of such hybrid, peripatetic media. In conceptual terms, this type of media is actually very simple. Imagine a device that can guide you through the world by pointing you in the right direction. In fact, these Global Positioning System devices are now rather ubiquitous and well understood for the purposes of automotive navigation. Now imagine that that media (audio, for example,) can be triggered at points along the way (waypoints). And then imagine that the prerogative to create this kind of triggered content was egalitarian in nature, that everyone with a computer and Internet connection can produce and share such content, and that others can find this content using only their internet connected mobile phones.