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proposal written for Easst conference

In 1983/4 the artists Linda Montana and Tehching Hsieh made ‘Rope Piece’, a performative artwork in which they spent an entire year joined together by an 8ft rope. For Easst 2010 we will invite conference delegates to be joined to each other throughout the conference, using ‘comob’ software on their own iphones/Nokia’s rather than an 8ft rope. (Participants are free to continue participating in the research by linking to each other over an entire year).

At the centre of this research is the artists project ‘comob’, an iphone app and Nokia N96 software made to explore what happens if you can see a link between your own location and other participants in a group. These relationships are visible as nodes and lines on a google map seen on the phone screen, and move as participants move about the city. How might it be used to negotiate co-location? How is it used in workshops to explore the negotiation of social understandings of action on the ground? How does it feel to be tethered to another person? This work uses social processes of art making (Kester, Southworth, Lacy) as a method of creating participatory experiences for an audience in which meaning is produced through non-representational practices of movement or action (Thrift), that also become parts of a network of practice (Suchman) in which art work, design work and field work are entangled together.

During the conference participants movements will be projected onto a wall and traced in reflective paint. The amount of light that is seen reflecting off this silver drawing is dependant on the viewers spatial relationship to the light source, so only partial and situated views (Haraway) of this mapping will ever be available as it seems to shimmer in the light. In past work (e.g. ‘Running Stitch’ 2006-2009, Hamilton, Southern & St Amand http://www.satellitebureau.net) the live transposing of GPS data from a participants walk was a catalyst for participants to imagine what was happening at the exhibition. In imagining their walk as a line as well as a path participants combined plan view and situated action (Suchman) as they added their walk to a collaborative map, performing their own relationship to place through the live GPS technology, simultaneously both reading and writing the city (De Certeau).

The work will culminate in a short workshop at the end of the conference when participants will be invited to relfect on their use and awareness of the comob connection, and how social links might be performed through GPS.

Comob is a digital arts project that explores the potential for collaborative mapping with GPS technology. Comob was developed as a research tool to explore social and spatial relationships between people in motion. Comob has been used in workshops throughout 2009/10 at Futuresonic 09, ISEA 09, Edinburgh College of Art and Designing Environments for Life exhibition, Dundee .

www.comob.org.uk (project website)

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