CLOSING REPORT [01-08-03]: Mapping ‘the Zone'
July 16-26, 2003, K@2, Karosta, LV | Longitude 21.00, Latitude 56.55
From: LOCATIVE MEDIA WORKSHOP
With portable, GPS-equipped networked computing devices, people can produce and
share their our own cartographic data, and map their physical environments,
providing artists a tool by which space becomes their canvas.
The Locative Media Workshop <locative.x-i.net> brought an international group of
artists and researchers to the K@2 Culture and Information Centre in Karosta (a
partially abandoned military installation on the coast of the Baltic Sea resembling
‘the Zone' from Tarkovsky's ‘Stalker') to explore the potential of this new mapping
paradigm, both conceptually and through the creative use of GPS technologies.
The workshop utilized mobile, location-aware networking devices/software
(courtesy of and developed by the Waag Society/Esther Polak), to trace the movements
of workshop participants in real-time as they mapped Karosta's so-called ‘elephant
trails', a web of footpaths criss-crossing the installation's rigid military grid
structure. A unique application was produced during the workshop (by Pall Thayer)
for dynamically visualizing these track-logs <locative.x-i.net/k_swf.html> in
addition to making use of the ‘Real-Time Riga' application featured at RIXC's Media
Architecture festival in May 2004 <rixc.lv/03/realtime.html>.
To provide participants with a conceptual framework for conceiving of how to
geo-annotate their physical environment Jo Walsh and Andrew Paterson developed a
semantic web model for creating ‘locative packets' <locative.x-i.net/karosta/>.
Based on this model, participants sampled local sights and sounds, wove their
interpretations into vignettes and uploaded the packets to a file server in order to
create an interactive, artist-generated map of the site --accessible via the
Internet, but also designed to interface with mobile locative networking devices.
The workshop participants pondered techniques for the cultural appropriation of
military technology (GPS) from within the decaying ruins of a former military
empire, perched on the edge of integration into a new regime (NATO & EU). With
participants attending from as far a field as Pyramid Lake Indian reservation in
Nevada to Iceland and New Zealand, the workshop produced a diverse range of
perspectives on this unique location.
-After weaving together local stories, recounted by K@2's founders Carl Biorsmark &
Kristine Briede, into a narrative structure, Ben Russell developed a taxonomy of
locative concepts based, amongst other thing, on traditional Latvian patterns.
-Signe Pucena & Andrew Paterson stitched together samples of sound and image,
inspired by the Russian Orthodox Cathedral at the centre of Karosta, creating a
linked pattern of bells, songs and myths from the life story of an old Babushka,
daily military marches, and ghostly abandoned apartment blocks.
-Esther Polak, Ieva Auzina & Zaiga Putrama went to the East Latvian province of
Latgale, to create GIS visualizations of disappearing farming practices and the
-In collaborative with local youths, Pete Gomes & Gabriel Lopez Shaw shot an
experimental film in the gutted shells of Tzarist-era mansions.
-R a d i o q u a l i a composed a short animation of satellite images of Karosta and
conducted experiments in sending and receiving data to and from a Linux based
application for the Sharp Zaurus PDA.
-Mari Keski-Korsu & Cheryl L'Hirondelle created film sequences of Karosta locations
that used a split screen technique to suggest multiple perspectives on a single
-Kristin Bergaust created a short video piece contrasting similar Karosta locations
in differing states of decay.
-Marc Tuters shot time-lapse video of himself spray-painting walls of derelict
bunkers as a play on the notion of geo-annotation.
-Mika Meskanen worked on time-lapse sequences of locations around Karosta.
The workshop will continue to uploaded these and other annotated media files of
Karosta to create an artist-generated map of the location, accessible online as well
as through a wireless client application for Java and Bluetooth-enabled "picture
phones", in time for Riga's RAM event in 2004.
Indeed, the workshop's primary objectives were to _initiate future collaborative
work_ in the field, on: developing tactics and methodologies for locative media
practice, exploring and prototyping interface metaphors, and articulating further
flexible standards for collaborative geo-annotation projects. The participants also
began the process of generating ideas for the thematic structure of upcoming events,
for which it was determined that the workshop's list-serve (email@example.com) would
be maintained and opened-up as a forum for those interested in aesthetic and
philosophical issues around grassroots GIS.