Ctrl-N/ journal: repository of texts, research and documents on cities, mapping, networks, psychogeography and the experience of places; Written and maintained by Olivier Ruellet.


The Monument Project (Si Monumentum Requiris Circumspice) · March 11th, 2009

The Monument Project (Si Monumentum Requiris Circumspice), a new digital video installation by Chris Meigh-Andrews commissioned by Julian Harrap Architects on behalf of the City of London Corporation opens on the 21th of March at the Nunnery gallery, Bow.

The installation, which produces a continuous stream of ambient responsive panoramic images from the top of the Monument in the City of London, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week for 3 years, can be accessed at http://www.themonumentview.net/

The launch event will take place at The Nunnery Gallery, Bow Arts Trust, 183 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ, from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM, Friday, March 20th, 2009.

GPS technology as a mark-making tool, drawing as a spatial practice · March 9th, 2009

The World's biggest 'IF'

Jeremy Wood, The World's biggest 'IF'

Last week-end saw one the busiest day at the Kinetica Artfair in London, featuring over 150 exhibiting artists working at the cross-roads of sound / light art, computer art and interactive sculpture, and an extensive programme of related talks. One of them was given by Jeremy Wood, whose work I saw for the first time last year in the V&A Mapping the imagination exhibition. Wood had been working with GPS technology for over 8 years, and started from a disconcertingly simple idea: he noticed the aesthetic qualities of the paths formed on a map by geo-tagged photographs taken during a flight from Berlin to London. From there he has pushed the practice of flying, driving, cycling, walking (and even dog-walking) with a GPS attached, expecting some meaningful shape or pattern to emerge.
It’s interesting to note that while some of this ‘always-on’ recording process may be totally random (and pretty similar to Dan Belasco Rogers‘ work), Wood has also taken a keen interest in plotting routes to achieve a specific – and often funny – purpose (e.g. writing the world’s biggest ‘IF’, or drawing a ship sailing on the shoreline by cycling around the streets of Brighton – amusingly dropping its anchor where it had the most space to draw it in all details: in a park).

Brighton Boat

Jeremy Wood, Brighton Boat

I would describe Wood’s practice as negotiating around the possibilities offered by space to enable a drawing to take place, diverting and using wearable GPS technology as a mark-making tool. Initially a method for the military to record spatial activity, the technology has also become in the hands of Wood an ‘alibi’ to find out what’s going on where – a reminder of Situationist strategies for the Dérive (He has applied psychogeographic principles to a few drawings). In a different strand of works, he also explored the assumed precision level of GPS and has interrogated how accurate and reliable the technology actually is.
His work has obvious parallels with art movements of the last century: GPS drawings by animals echo the surrealists’ use of snails to paint. The special relationship to the territory established through walking as a creative act is also found in the work of many land artists, including Richard Long and the Stalker collective.
I was curious to figure out how much importance real-time feedback takes in this kind of work – I guess a lot of the fun is about experiencing it for yourself. Good, because Wood actually happens to run regular GPS drawing workshops with schools, local authorities and art galleries.


Sounds in spaces · November 1st, 2008

On the subject of “the ability of sound to instil even the most mundane images with beauty or new meaning” and matching mood with space, I remember visiting a show appropriately entitled “Shhh… Sounds in Spaces” at the Victoria and Albert museum back in the summer 2004.

The rather unusual aspect of this show was that the museum displays hadn’t been altered in any way; Instead, the museum-goer was given headphones connected to a player containing a set of pre-recorded tracks that was triggered as you crossed specific doorways. The portable technology used (IR sensors and a lightweight headset) was transparently integrated, giving way to the stunning experience of entering a room just to be surprised and self-conscious of our own presence and motion into the space, revealing the hidden aural dimensions of architecture. This ‘invisible exhibition’ was actually turning the experience of visiting a gallery upside-down while engaging visitors with the space in an unparalleled way: the wandering visitor was the focus-point of the art, rather than being simply an external observer of it, by creating their very own audio-cinematic display in (and from) their head as they moved along the rooms and corridors of the museum.

Ten sound artists and musicians were commissioned to create aural pieces re-defining specific rooms and spaces of the museum from their own perspective. The results encompassed a wide variety of approaches to making sound, through a game of contrasts and comparisons between sound and space: compositional, concrete, conceptual, in response either to the architecture, to the objects, to activity, or associations of meaning: from Roots Manuva’s outspoken social commentary in the Norfolk Room to Cornelius’ work which was particularly moving – It was almost as if you felt the music was a direct echo of the light twinkling on the glass and ceramics objects you were looking at.

Peninsula Voices (Daniel Belasco Rogers) · November 18th, 2006

“What would happen if street corners could talk? Some people believe that bricks and mortar can record sound vibration – that if you could unlock this you would be able to hear the history of the area played back to you.”

Daniel Belasco Rogers spent months recording stories told by local residents of the Greenwich area. In August 2006, the “Peninsula Voices” project will find out what stories are written through the pavements, using handheld computers connected by GPS, making it possible to walk round the area and hear the voices of those who lived there.

Peninsula Voices