We are Here : perception, experience, movement, production

a workshop on artistic approaches to geography and cartography

Visualizing Geographies

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Aaron Koblin + Takashi Kawashima – The Sheep Market

 ‘The Sheep Market’ is a collection of 10,000 sheep make by workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Workers were paid 0.02 ($USD) to ‘draw a sheep facing to the left’. The project explores the spaces of the digital labour markets and virtual economies, reflecting on post-industrialized labor management in the globalized economy.


Aaron Koblin + Takashi Kawashima – Ten Thousand Cents

‘Ten Thousand Cents’ is a digital artwork that creates a representation of a $100 bill. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and the reproductions available for purchase are all $100. The work is presented as an interactive/video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. The project explores the circumstances we live in, a new and uncharted combination of digital labor markets, “crowdsourcing”, “virtual economies,” and digital reproduction.


Aaron Koblin – Flight Patterns

Data from the U.S. Federal aviation administration processed to create animations of flight traffic patterns and density.


Esther Polak + Ieva Auzina – MILKproject

The milk line is one of the countless movements of the international food trade, in this case milk, produced by Latvian farmers, made into cheese by a local factory with the help of an Italian expert, transported into The Netherlands and stored in a Dutch cheese warehouse ripen, sold at the Utrecht market and finally eaten by Dutch citizens.

The map follows the milk from the udder of the cow to the plate of the consumer, by means of the people involved. All those involved were given a GPS device for a day: one of the days that they were somehow occupied with the movements of this dairy. 


Critical Art Ensemble + Institute for Applied Autonomy – Seized

SEIZED examines the physical artifacts of the 2004 FBI investigation of Buffalo artist Steven Kurtz. The items the FBI seized from his home are represented here in photographs of the negative spaces they left behind: missing computers, books, notes, props from performances, lab equipment and unfinished manuscript. Balancing these empty spaces is the voluminous pile of garbage left behind by federal authorities at the Kurtz residence, providing a rare window into the anatomy of a “bioterror” investigation. Hand drawn maps, “to do” lists, and countless articles of protective clothing are set against a backdrop of several hundred energy drinks and over thirty pizza boxes.

Kanarinka It takes 154,000 breaths to evacuate Boston

Kanarinka ran the entire evacuation route system in Boston and attempted to measure the distance in human breath. The project also involves a podcast and a sculptural installation of the archive of tens of thousands of breaths. 

The project is an attempt to measure our post-9/11 collective fear in the individual breaths that it takes to traverse these new geographies of insecurity. The $827,500 Boston emergency evacuation system was installed in 2006 to demonstrate the city’s preparedness for evacuating people in snowstorms, hurricanes, infrastructure failures, fires and/or terrorist attacks.


Isabelle Jenniches – SPAN 2

Two online cameras are mounted on either side of the Colorado River to monitor the construction of a suspension bridge 900 feet above Black Canyon. Over the course of two years this composite has grown outwards like the bridge assembly itself; new layers of imagery are continually being added as the two structural spans reach over the canyon towards each other.


Multiplicity – The Road Map
The territories of Israel and Palestine are, in these days a laboratory of the world. This is a region where, in a few acres, an incredible variety of borders, enclosures, fences, check points and controlled corridors are concentrated. On January 13th and 14th 2003 we tried to measure, with out EU passport the density of border devices in the surrounding area of Jerusalem. On January 13th we travelled on the highway 60, along with a person with an Israeli passport from the colony of Kiriat Arba to the colony of Kudmin. The following day, we travelled along with a person with a Palestinian passport from the city of Hebron to the city of Nablus. The two routes both start and end in the same latitude; at some points they overlap.

Their travelling times, through are profoundly different. To move between the two latitudes, the Israeli travller took around one hour, while th Palestinian took five and half hours.

Route Map 2

Trevor Paglen + The Institute for Applied Autonomy – Terminal Air

Terminal Air is a project that explores complex interconnections between government agencies and private contractors involved with the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s extraordinary rendition program. Since the mid-90’s, the CIA has operated the extraordinary rendition program, in which suspected terrorists captured in Western nations are transported to secret locations for torture and interrogation. A thoroughly modern enterprise, the extraordinary rendition program is largely carried out using leased equipment and private contractors. These private charter planes often use civilian airports for refueling, making their movements subject to public record and visible to anyone who knows which tail numbers to look for. However, while these missions are carried out under the guise of protecting the American people, the nature of the program has thus far remained out of reach to both American and International law. With only the knowledge of what these planes have been used for in the past, human rights activists are left to view their movements as a vast “black box” and can only speculate whether any specific plane is currently carrying human cargo en-route to being tortured in a so-called CIA “dark prison”.


Sophie Calle – The Hotel

In 1981, Sophie Calle spent three weeks working as chambermaid in a hotel in Venice. This allowed her to spy on the guests. Like a detective or crime photographer, she photographs the momentarily unoccupied hotel rooms: she photographs the unmade or never slept in beds, the stray items left in bathrooms, the contents of suitcases and closets; she reads letters left lying in the open, takes photographs of the guests, and does even more. Sophie Calle published the photographs within the diary-like report of her ‹observations,› in the book entitled «Ecrit sur l’image. L’Hotel». Calle turns the viewer or reader into an accomplice of her voyeurism – filling them, too, with the urge to move unobserved through another’s private sphere. Like with many of Sophie Calle’s works, photographs and texts exist in a circular self-referring structure: the objects that Calles mentions in the text are found again in the photographs, but their role as evidence is first established through the telling of the story, whose believability lies solely in the hands of the artist.


Sophie Calle – Take Care of Yourself

“I received an email telling me it was over. I didn’t know how to respond. It was almost as if it hadn’t been meant for me. It ended with the words, “Take care of yourself.” And so I did. I asked 107 women (including two made from wood and one with feathers), chosen for their profession or skills, to interpret this letter. To analyze it, comment on it, dance it, sing it. Dissect it. Exhaust it. Understand it for me. Answer for me. It was a way of taking time to break up.” (Sophie Calle)

  The message of ‘Take Care of Yourself’ is not simply philosophical-conceptual it is also significantly political. Calle mustered a phalanx of female professionals to deconstruct the offending letter and this phalanx represents the still changing structure of society in which men no longer have exclusive access to social power. The squirming writer of the letter is crushed under 107 potent heels.


Written by michelleteran

October 27, 2009 at 9:54 am

Posted in Lectures, References

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