Spatial memory at Design Engaged 2004

Notes on two related projects:

1. Time that land forgot

  • A project in collaboration with Even Westvang
  • Made in 10 days at the Icelandic locative media workshop, summer 2004
  • Had the intention of making photo archives and gps trails more useful/expressive
  • Looked at patterns in my photography: 5 months, 8000 photos, visualised them by date / time of day. Fantastic resource for me: late night parties, early morning flights, holidays and the effect of midnight sun is visible.
  • time visualisation

    2. Marking in urban public space

    I’ve also been mapping stickering, stencilling and flyposting: walking around with the camera+gps and photographing examples of marking (not painted graffiti).

    This research looks at the marking of public space by investigating the physical annotation of the city: stickering, stencilling, tagging and flyposting. It attempts to find patterns in this marking practice, looking at visibility, techniques, process, location, content and audience. It proposes ways in which this marking could be a layer between the physical city and digital spatial annotation.

    Some attributes of sticker design

  • Visibility: contrast, monochromatic, patterns, bold shapes, repetition
  • Patina: history, time, decay, degredation, relevance, filtering, social effects
  • Physicality: residue of physical objects: interesting because these could easily contain digital info
  • Adaptation and layout: layout is usually respectful, innovative use of dtp and photocopiers, adaptive use of sticker patina to make new messages on top of old

    Layers of information build on top of each other, as with graffiti, stickers show their age through fading and patina, flyposters become unstuck, torn and covered in fresh material. Viewed from a distance the patina is evident, new work tends to respect old, and even commercial flyposting respects existing graffiti work.

    Techniques vary from strapping zip-ties through cardboard and around lampposts for large posters, to simple hand-written notes stapled to trees, and short-run printed stickers. One of the most fascinating and interactive techniques is the poster offering strips of tear-off information. These are widely used, even in remote areas.

    Initial findings show that stickers don’t relate to local space, that they are less about specific locations than about finding popular locations, “cool neighbourhoods” or just ensuring repeat exposure. This is opposite to my expectations, and perhaps sheds some light on current success/failure of spatial annotation projects.

    I am particularly interested in the urban environment as an interface to information and an interaction layer for functionality, using our spatial and navigational senses to access local and situated information.

    There is concern that in a dense spatially annotated city we might have an overload of information, what about filtering and fore-grounding of relevant, important information? Given that current technologies have very short ranges (10-30mm), we might be able to use our existing spatial skills to navigate overlapping information. We could shift some of the burden of information retrieval from information architecture to physical space.

    I finished by showing this animation by Kriss Salmanis, a young Latvian artist. Amazing re-mediation of urban space through stencilling, animation and photography. (“Un ar reizi naks tas bridis” roughly translates as “And in time the moment will come”.

    Footnotes/references

    Graffiti Archaeology, Cassidy Curtis
    otherthings.com/grafarc

    Street Memes, collaborative project
    streetmemes.com

    Spatial annotation projects list
    elasticspace.com/2004/06/spatial-annotation

    Nokia RFID kit for 5140
    nokia.com/nokia/0,,55739,00.html

    Spotcodes, High Energy Magic
    highenergymagic.com/spotcode

    ?Mystery Meat navigation?, Vincent Flanders
    fixingyourwebsite.com/mysterymeat.html

    RDF as barcodes, Chris Heathcote
    undergroundlondon.com/antimega/archives/2004_02.html

    Implementation: spatial literature
    nickm.com/implementation

    Yellow Arrow
    yellowarrow.org