Translocal Urban Mobilities: Situating Location Based Media

Lead Research Organisation: University of Salford
Department Name: Sch of Arts & Media


This proposal is a research project on new media art that uses different technologies of location (GPS, mobile phone, Wlan) to create cross-media experiences in urban places using sound, still images, video, and maps with both narrative and game formats. Both my own work produced as part of this research proposal, and my analytical writing of work by other artists, will be situated in the traditions of site-specific art, situationist actions, and participatory media arts in public locations.

Key research questions of this proposal are: Do recent technologies of location in media art offer an altered sense of place? What kind of choices in design, aesthetic and technical solutions impact the end user experience of the work? In which ways do participants perform in public to become part of the work and the culturally specific location? How does the sensory, direct and mediated experience of location constitute an affect of location?

For my practice it is important to look at emerging technologies critically, and to situate new work in recent historical contexts. I will undertake an analytical and theoretical writing process, which feeds directly to the creation of media artworks under the title Translocations. Two installations will be co-developed and premiered with FACT, Liverpool, and Sarai, New Delhi. Later shows are planned with Futuresonic festival in Manchester, and with Kiasma, Finnish Contemporary Art Museum, Helsinki. The research will also result in a practice-focussed book manuscript with a working title Technologies of Location: Media Arts and Affect of Place, for The MIT Press Leonardo Book Series.

Media art project Translocations pays attention to the ethical dimension of an artist as a person who enters into a dialogue on a terrain, which by definition is not one's home. In a user centred design process, critical issues revolve around questions of trust, integrity, access, and how the material produced in a given location can travel to exhibition contexts elsewhere.

I plan to use both sound and spoken voice mapped to location coordinates in contested urban places, to create a location based, interactive narrative environment that enables dialogue about a particular urban place. In Delhi, the plan is to work with an autorickshaw driver at Chawri Bazar metro station. A 12V installation will be built into the 'auto' (Images 1&2). Initial stories are created by the artist and colleagues from Sarai; users add their own. As a passenger drives through the neighbourhood, stories unfold. For Liverpool, a site will be chosen during a local research visit. After two projects are developed and realized in public spaces, and a solid database of content has accumulated, the material can be viewed and listened to through a web interface.

My artistic focus is on the primary experience in the public installations. The website, including a blog with published essays and a discussion board address the theme of translocality and urban mobility. How are different locations experienced when augmented with mobile authoring technologies?

Since the first submission of this proposal to AHRC, I have developed the theme further during a residency at Sarai, New Delhi, given two keynotes, and realized a graduate seminar on the topic at the University of Arts and Design, Helsinki. Based on peer review assessors' feedback, the project now has a sharper focus, a sustainable structure, and a technical specification document.

My research home base is Creative Technology, University of Salford in Manchester. For the writing of the book manuscript, I will also be supported by Imagination@Lancaster in the form of seminars and feedback. Two additional mentors are Simon Penny, UC Irvine, Chris Csikzentmihalyi, MIT Medialab.


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