To look at your own or to other peoples tracks


Hereby a reaction to Asta, one of the contributers to the Synapse-list and her question about the farmers engagement the project:

“Esther Polak’s farmer-tourist project is fascinating. The engagement of the farmer community is also very interesting and like Simeon pointed out I’m curious on what level they engage.”

my answer:
This is an important question: the motivation for continuing to work with GPS visualization for me lays in the fact that by designing a special visualization and context, I can evoke different kinds of interactions or engagements between people and GPS tracks. In the case of the Souvenir project the interaction is more intended to be between the local tourists and the visualization than on the farmers and their own tracks. The track we use is as said that of a crop farmer on the field, and during one week we will make rather abstract monoprints of that track, and fill the exhibition space all over. The space again becomes a landscape, in which the visitor can dwell and make his/her pick: for that reason we make a lot of prints and have them all for sale. This also has to do with the fact that this track is rather abstract, an visible in the real world as well as tractor-marks in the field, so there is not a real privacy issue for a change.

The exhibition space is situated in a village that in summertime is crowded by tourists. The piece is really mostly aimed at the interaction between agricultural landscape and tourists: an old fascination of mine. In other projects I did (and do) focus on farmers and the ralation they have with their own routes, what does it do to them to see this: and In those projects I totally focus(ed) on the interaction between the participants and their maps and that is definitely a differend approach. That was again motivated by AmsterdamREALTIME project experiences, only during the execution of the project I found out how strong the effect is on a lot of people to see their own tracks! This difference: seeing ones own track, or looking at somebody else’s track, the differend reactions and effects that evokes in the audience also is a matter to take in good care for each project again. In AmsterdamREALTIME we designed the project so that the audience, although mostly not participating themselves, still was more in the position of identification with the participants than in the position of “spying on them”. We made all kinds of big and small design-decisions based on this goal.

For the occasion of this list I did translate (with the kind aid of Synapse list moderator Vicki Sowry) an early “making off” text I wrote even before I started working on REALTIME, I had not read it in years! But I found it interesting to read how many topics that are also mentioned in this list feature in this 2002 text already!

Another really inspiring text that I like to mention is:
Wright, John K. 1947. Terrae Incognitae: The Place of Imagination in Geography. It is a fascinating passionate plea for subjective mapping for 1947. INCOGNITAE.doc


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