A lecture-performance by Esther Polak
At this evening session Esther Polak will do a public performance with the GPS drawing robot, based on the herders’ and truck drivers’ tracks collected in Nigeria. The performance will be followed by a talk on ElasticMapping: the possibilities of manipulating and editing GPS tracks, and how this opens up the cinematographic qualities of location data ‘as such’ to meaningful artistic investigation, resulting in more and more subjective and personalized mappings that will have a big impact on the future use of digital location aware media.
Artist in Residence
With the increased possibilities of personalized mapping that come with the emerging presence of locative media in society, the traditional cartographic objectivity of ‘The Map’ is challenged in a daring way. Artists are investigating these new possibilities, and Esther Polak has been working on the subject since 2002. As she has done so, the visualization of GPS tracks has played an important role in her work. For her latest project, NomadicMILK, Esther Polak worked with nomads and truck drivers in Nigeria. For this project she specially developed a new visualization tool: a GPS drawing robot that is able to present GPS tracks in outdoors situations, independent of power supply or in--door shelter. The robot draws GPS tracks directly on the ground by replotting them to a chosen spatio-temporal scale. It is equipped with a bottle filled with sand; a hole in the lid makes it function like a drawing hourglass. In this way the robot functions as a performative tool, making the GPS tracks tangible and physically present. This approach brought about new needs for representation. Both time and space had to be compressed, scaled and deformed in order to have the robot draw a recognizable map in sand. The process of manipulating and editing GPS data raises new questions: it turns out to be something in between drawn routes from memory and hardcore GPS route registration.