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February 11, 2005



"For some reason GPS drawings have started to annoy me."

Those maps annoyed me as well. I wrote about it here, in preperation for our Amsterdam walk:


I think GPS drawings are more event than duration. Put another way, they are representation and not performance. They lock movement and kill the potential to re-read socio-spatial practice. Once elevated to the level of 'art', they can be recontextualised in, say, exhibition space, but they are no longer about the movement of the people they traced and instead shift our focus to the movement of the tracings themselves. In that sense they tell us more about ourselves and our desire to art than they tell us about the spatiality and sociality they seek to represent. In contrast, the walking that Andrew describes is all about duration and all about performance. Rather than being about maps, it is about mapping. Even a structured (algorithmic) walk is open and multiple in ways that traces can never be.


One of the nicest works at Art+Communication 2004 was "Milk" using gps 'traces' as a way of stimulating conversation and memory in the participants, which was then presented as a video of them, talking about their maps. All about context, experience and memory, and not about literal tracing.
( http://locative.x-i.net/piens/ )

I find gps 'traces' of my own journeys fascinating, often more compelling than the accompanying photographs. But I usually find that they are meaningless to others, I addressed this (in a very small way) in two pieces of work last year, experimenting with the link between photographs and traces:
( http://www.elasticspace.com/2004/07/afar and http://www.elasticspace.com/2004/07/timeland )


Matt, this is great stuff. Is intentionality a factor in this?

"However, I now feel that there is a move to elevate these simple marks to a level of 'art'."

- Does your annoyance refer to the GPS drawings that seem to be mere visual records of bodies moving in space (and very much secondary outputs of the movement), or to those that place movement in the service of depiction (GPS as drawing tool, as you say)? Or to both?

Rein Ahas

It is very interesting. I' try to save my history in GPS, but they have very small memory. What kind of technology/device you use to save many days without "memory" problems?
Geographer, Estonia

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