An exhibition by Futuresonic, curated by Drew Hemment Exhibition and conference at Urbis, plus mobile projects in the city streets April 28th to May 8th 2004
Mobile Connections was the first major exhibition worldwide on mobile, wireless and locative arts. It followed pioneering events and workshops by RIXC in Latvia, and preceded Wireless Experience at ISEA2004.
Mobile Connections (2004) was the first major art exhibition on mobile and locative media. It was staged by Futuresonic at the Urbis museum in Manchester, featuring participants from more than 20 countries.
The exhibition explored how mobile and wireless media reconfigure social, cultural and information space? Looking beyond computing in its current form, towards the social and cultural possibilities opened by a new generation of networked, location-aware media. Seeking an art of mobile communications: are there any forms of expression that are intrinsic or unique to mobile and wireless media.
It explored how artists are responding to new ways of seeing, sensing and representing: radar, sonar, GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular, GIS, etc. The exhibition probed new horizons in wireless and mobile media, and looked at the diverse ways in which artists and technical innovators are pushing the limits, and soliciting unexpected or unforeseen results from communication media past and present, from the radio to mobile telephony and wireless LAN. Some are seeking to make visible and audible the signals and transmissions that fill the air around us, exploring the potential of interfaces unfettered by wires and cables for performance or interaction, or the kinds of communication and creative expression that emerge within networks with no fixed centre, but rather multiple, mobile nodes.
Just as recording enabled sound to be heard apart from the place and time of its creation and radio made possible remote listening, so a new generation of communication technologies are now reconfiguring geographical, cultural and perceptual space, and transforming the nature of the art object and the art event. Mobile Connections sought to sketch the outlines of emerging artforms that are coalescing around artists, programmers and DIY technologists who are responding to new technical tools by asking what can be experienced now that could not be experienced before.
The rapid uptake of the mobile phone, both in the West and increasingly in the global South, the proliferation of wireless networks, and the promise of pervasive computing in which networked devices become embedded in the environment around us has created a space that increasing numbers of people are starting to explore. Mobile phones have enabled places without fixed line telephony to get connected. In comparison to the internet, however, the mobile phone networks are centralised and proprietary. To date, in Europe and North America especially, this has limited the scope for DIY innovation. At the other end of the spectrum, the Free Networks movement empowers people to build their own wireless networks, its goal not just to leak bandwidth but to extend an independent and free community infrastructure.
Grass roots movements of artists and technologists are opening up new horizons. An area that has caught the imagination of many is the emergent field of Locative Media. Rather than distance becoming irrelevant, location has become key in mobile communications, because when you are on the move, you need information relevant to where you are. Assigning data with spatial coordinates so that it can be accessed from particular points, Locative Media explores how networked mobile devices, when combined with positioning technologies such as GPS, may be used for social communication and organisation, or for artistic interventions in which geographical space becomes its canvas.
The question of location within art is by no means new. Mobile Connections also explored how location is approached in other artforms, and issues such as material embodiment and the resonant qualities of a space. It featured sound and media art projects that enable place and the urban environment to be experienced in different ways, including the Location site specific sound installations curated by Colin Fallows, and projects that enable the city to be navigated through sound.
Drew Hemment, Curator, April 04
A wireless performance set in year 2030, when bandwidth is safeguarded by freenetworks and tapped by renegade roller girls equipped with homemade lunchbox chiputers. The great wireless hope that promised mobility and connectivity has bubbled. The GPS satellite signals have lost track of its urbanites when cutting through the Ozone layers. The ocean-apart digital divide has eventually sabotaged the Net we surf in. What remains of the feeble bandwidth is held out and safeguarded by the wireless freenetworkers, whose self-organized and decentralized network maintains its data cloud in the local communal mesh-settings. RICHAIR2030 mobilizes roaming nodes and calls for trans-national virtual mesh network.
Soundscape by supermodem.org
Rollergirl dresses by MissChina, Paris
Server Tech support: Waag Society, Amsterdam
Supported by Arts Council England
New edition for Futuresonic04
April 30th. 7.30pm-1am (First performance 8pm). Lucid.
Projekt Atol, Delray and guests (SLO/US/UK/FR/DE/RA)
Start from Urbis. Register at Futuresonic04 festival desk.
InterUrban is a user driven experience that responds to a participant's amble through city streets. It is an interactive narrative that unfolds according to the visitor's movement. It runs on a Tablet PC with headphones and GPS card. Environmental factors such as Listener location, the distance travelled by the Listener, time of day, heading, and proximity to hypothetical or historic events determine how the narrative is constructed. InterUrban is a reactive, scalable reflection on time, distance, and the urban psyche.
April 30th to May 2nd Only. 3pm-8pm. (Sunday 3pm-6pm). ID required to borrow equipment.
Text the numbers on the (area)code signposts that have sprung up around Manchester to reveal the hidden history of the location at which you stand, and upload a story of your own - something you did there, some useful advise, or what that place means to you - for the next passing stranger to discover. A themed and participatory locative media project that "annotates" the city and builds an ever growing record of personal traces. Whereas the buzz around locative media is often about emergent technologies, (area)code - in a similar way to projects such as [murmur] - allows anyone with a phone in their pocket to participate.
April 1st to May 31st. 24/7. City wide (see map in inside cover). No registration required.
Sounds will be placed within Cathedral Gardens outside Urbis to create a virtual sound environment. These sounds will be accessed through walking through the space wearing headphones and carrying a Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), which coupled with a digital compass will provide full spatial listening and allow individual users to hear the location of other users. Aura seeks to go beyond the conventional approach within locative media of overlaying of digital information onto real space by focusing on dialogues and communication between participants, enabling them to work together to create sonic tapestries through their relative movements.
April 30th to May 2nd Only. 10am-8pm. (Sunday 10am-6pm.) ID required to borrow equipment.
Participants are given a back pack, containing a G4 laptop, and a set of headphones, and invited to experience the city as they never have before. As they wander the streets of Manchester the sounds they hear are sampled and processed live. Imaging crossing a road, and jumping with surprise when you hear a car rushing by 10 seconds later. Or if the sounds you hear never disappear, but are built up into layers of subtle texture. Conversations become puzzles, as participants make sense of the strange sensory environment. Sonic Interface explores mobility and location, challenging the way we perceive the city through creative applications of advanced technology.
April 30th to May 2nd Only. 10am-8pm. (Sunday 10am-6pm.) ID required to borrow equipment.
Urbis First Floor Gallery. April 28th to May 8th. 10am-8pm (May 3rd & 4th, 10am-6pm only).
Experience the noises of Tokyo's bustling streets from within the glass walls of Urbis. Navigate the city by moving a stylus along the streets represented on a 3D architect's model and hear sounds recorded at that location. As you trace a journey around the streets you will hear conversations, noises of passing traffic, and all the ambient sounds that give the city its character.
Honorary Mention Prix Ars Electronica 2003.
Continuing squidsoup's explorations into immersive intuitive media and the boundaries between virtual and physical space, Come Closer uses wearable technology, wireless networking and stereo vision to explore and expand on our sense of personal space and proximity to others. The closer two people get to each other, the more acutely aware of each other's presence they become. This sensation may be comforting or disquieting, but participants are encouraged to transcend the normal barriers of personal space and explore the meaning of closeness in both virtual and physical terms. The space between people is filled with sound that is affected by their movement and position. With more people in a room, complex harmonies begin to appear and disappear, allowing scope for cooperation and confrontation, intimacy and rejection.
Created as part of the Clark Digital Bursary supported by Watershed, Mobile Bristol, J.A. Clark Charitable Trust, Arts Council England and The University of the West of England.
Additional support on positioning technologies from Pyxis Design.
Installation built to look like a phone box that is sealed off from all radiation. Once inside, no-one can contact you. Phones, walkie-talkies, bluetooth, radios, TVs - none of your usual communication devices will work in here. Undertake a voluntary shrinkage of your personal influence on the world - communicate no further than you can throw your voice or than someone is prepared to walk to see you. This is True Radio Silence(TM) - gaining the freedom of reduced possibilities.
Wi-Fi Hog is personal system for a laptop or portable computer that enables people to gain complete control over a public access wireless network. The project is a cautionary reaction to the battle over free wireless spectrum where corporate pay-per-use and free community networks are fighting for signal dominance in public spaces. Wifi-Hog exists as a tactical media tool for controlling and subverting this claim of ownership and regulation over free spectrum, by allowing a means of control to come from a third-party.
Remix the city! Net project exploring perceptions of the city within generative audio and image environments. Over thirty sections offer audiovisual, interactive, internet art experiences. The city becomes an organic network of grids and diagrams, juxtaposing urban sights and sounds.
Disembodied voices is a web-based meditation on the nature of public space. It is a visual representation of how different bodies communicate across space, using mobile phones as a metaphor for the new translocal of connected, disembodied voices, linked across space invisibly - forming an unseen network of wanderers, always within reach yet nowhere in sight.
A 5 min film that tracks changes in the use of mobile phones by autorickshaw drivers within the urban culture of Bangalore. While this group has often been represented as a traffic menace, cheat, and environmental polluter, their increasing use of mobile telephony appears to be changing the ways in which they relate to - and serve - their urban clients.
An interactive wireless game in which multiple users collaborate to solve musical puzzles, designed to test the effect of new technology in social spaces. Presented by Tom Melamed (Mobile Bristol/UK).
Duncan Speakman: www.kleindesign.co.uk
*Only April 30th and Saturday May 1st. 2pm-5pm
Documentation of Trace, an installation in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, in which participants can leave personal memorials, which are then played back in response to each hiker's movement and position in the landscape - detected by a computer/gps unit in the hiker's knapsack. Recordings are heard through open-cel headphones and playback is at low volume so that memorials intermingle with ambient sounds of the natural environment.
Documentation of projects using the global positioning system (gps) to investigate cultural geography. Using the essentially dumb technology of the gps to explore the nature of walking as a means of discovery and to reveal how geographical distance can be linked to cultural difference. Distance Made Good (2002) Stratford-upon-Avon, linked the simulated city with its twin Stratford, Canada. Distance Made Good: Field Study (2003) revealed the spectacle of myth between two Sherwood Forests in Canada and UK.
A film on Mobile Clubbing, a flashmob-disco in which participants armed with AA batteries and headphones show up in a pre-arrange place and dance to their favourite tunes. Passers by are confronted by an unexpected, unexplained and seemly spontaneous party, uncertain where the event begins and ends, who is participating and who an innocent bystander. Mobile Clubbing forces a reconsideration of the nature of public space and the possibilities for collective experience in wireless environments.
Walk runs for ten minutes as a series of 600 one-second audio snapshots recorded at different locations internal and external, public and private across the city of Liverpool. Each frame capturing a forgotten image from the soundscape of a sequence of planned walks. At 60 frames a minute the ear navigates the time line collecting information, much as the eye moves across the surface of the painting to complete the picture. In this way Walk compiles an impressionistic portrait of Liverpool, bringing into focus the inconsequential sounds of the city.
Max Eastley presents images and recordings made in Spitsbergen in 2003 including hydrophone recordings of Bearded Seals, Walrus and land based recordings of colonies of Little Ark and Kittiwake. The recordings were made during the May 2003 Cape Farewell expedition when a team of eight artists, oceanographers and a film crew sailed north into the High Arctic. Max will be continuing his work during the September 2004 expedition when the same artists and scientists will attempt a circumnavigation of the Spitsbergen Archipelago as part of their ongoing investigation of the consequences of Global Warming and the impact it is having on the wild life and the ice fields of this awesome and fragile environment.
Cape Farewell is funded by the Arts Council
The Plant Room is a permanent functioning installation located in the attic of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. Situated above the showcase recording studios, The Plant Room is designedly hidden from general view and hearing in this purpose-built 'intelligent building'. The Plant Room, which contains a variety of sound generators including Chilled Water Circulation Pumps and Air Supply and Extraction System, was treated as a large scale digitally controlled ready-made noise-machine orchestra. The instruments of The Plant Room were programmed and orchestrated in a series of special arrangements as they performed their daily flow. Sounds combined in a series of digital mixes were recorded utilising the same system of microphones used by
Seven ceaselessly turning stones shape seven metal bowls, which in their turn effect new sculptings of the stones. Each round producing small, indeterminate, hesitant scrapings, the sounds of the uneasy symbiosis between the environment and humankind - a reciprocal process of continual transition between flux and fixity, between the ethereal and the enduring. Aleotoric and predictive processes of sound intervention explores and alludes to woven notions of our multiple senses of place and of time and consciousness. The future merges present and past at the moment of passing, of revolution. As we anticipate possible futures, the past swells and the future diminishes. Installation by Russell Mills and Ian Walton. Sound by Russell Mills and Mike Fearon.
The piece requires that a simple unadorned speaker be mounted in the gallery space (no frills, nothing to look at...). In its first iteration (July 1997) it was strapped to a metal radiator with some baling wire. A 6 minute tape loop is run through an amplifier to the speaker - the loop is predominantly silent but once every 6 minute period a very loud burst of sound is given off for 5 seconds.
Urbis. April 30th to May 1st 2004
A collaboration between Futuresonic, University of Salford, Liverpool School of Art and Design, Liverpool John Moores University, Urbis and Loca.
Introduction - Drew Hemment (UK) - Presentation by the Director of Futuresonic04
10.30am, April 30th
Sadie Plant (UK)
10.40am, April 30th
A look at the social and cultural effects of wireless technologies, from the impact of the basic mobile phone to the wireless devices of the future, on such issues as the evolution of public space, changing means of trade and communication, emergent modes of political action, and people's perceptions of themselves and their environments.
11.30am, April 30th
Armin Medosch (UK)
Adam Burns (free2air/UK)
Jonah Brucker-Cohen (US)
Simultaneously in different places all over the world network renegades have started to build a grassroots revolution from the margins of the net. Free Network groups such as Consume and Free2air suggest that people create a shared network using wireless networking technology based on the 802.11b standard. With radio cards and cheap DIY antennas bridges between homes and offices of users can be built, thereby creating multi-hop networks which by-pass commercial infrastructure. While users enjoy the benefits of high-bandwidth communication within an ever growing wireless data cloud, the free network is connected to the internet at its seems. The free network is based on the ideal of a 'network commons'. A minimum requirement for owners of nodes is to allow free data transit. All communications are two-way and symmetrical, there is no privileged central position in the network. All applications used are based on open standards and free or open source software. All elements of the network commons, the hardware, the software and the content created and shared are held in the public domain and protected by the according licences (GPL, CC, PPD). Equitable access to connectivity and applications makes the network commons a social infrastructure providing links between individuals and communities facilitating participation and exchange. Studying the emerging principles and conditions of the network commons, we are moving closer to an alternative and sustainable networking philosophy for the world.
2pm, April 30th
Anthony Townsend (US)
Anne Galloway (CA)
Marc Tuters (CA)
Ben Russell (UK)
One area that is perhaps generating the most excitement, and that has caught the imagination of a new generation of artists, programmers and DIY technologists, is the emergent field of Locative Media. Assigning data with spatial coordinates so that it can be accessed from particular points, Locative Media explores how networked mobile devices, when combined with positioning technologies such as GPS, may be used for social communication and organisation, or for artistic interventions in which geographical space becomes its canvas.
In association with Locative Media Lab.
3.40pm, April 30th
Tapio Makela (Programme Chair, ISEA2004/Vice Chair, m-cult/FI)
Susan Kennard (Executive Producer, Banff New Media Institute/CA)
Derek Freeman (UK)
The current media landscape is being redefined by pervasive computing, cross-platform applications and location-based use. Developing solutions for this environment requires a socially and culturally sensitive approach which takes into account the contextual, situated aspects of user cultures. The Creative crossings workshop is a forum for discussing participatory and creative applications for the development of mobile/located and cross-platform media. Of special interest are the transformative use of spaces and places and the social networks created in participatory authoring. The session will broaden participation and continue discussion on these themes of a Finnish-British-Canadian initiative by m-cult centre for new media culture, Arts Council England Interdisciplinary Arts Department, and BANFF New Media Institute. These three organisations are all sources and locations of support for Research and Applied Research based Co-productions. Attend this session to find out how you can develop your projects through this network.
In association with m-cult, ISEA2004, Banff New Media Institute and the Interdisciplinary Arts Department of Arts Council England.
5pm - followed by reception
Matt Adams/Blast Theory (UK)
10.30am, May 1st
Presentation by Blast Theory, who are renowned internationally as one of the most adventurous artists' groups using interactive media, with a particular focus on the social and political aspects of technology. Since 2001 they have been exploring the convergence of online and mobile technologies in collaboration with the Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham, to create groundbreaking new forms of performance and interactive art mixing audiences across the internet, live performance and digital broadcasting.
11.30am, May 1st
Andreas Broeckmann (Chair/Transmediale)
Marko Peljhan (Projekt Atol/Makrolab/SLO)
Fee Plumley (the-phone-book Limited/UK)
Tom Melamed (Mobile Bristol/UK)
Zoe Irvine (UK)
Art unplugged. Exploring the potential of interfaces unfettered by wires and cables for art and interaction, the mobile phone as a creative medium, the interface between the body and the nearest node, and the signals and transmissions that fill the air around us.
2pm, May 1st
Christa Sommerer (AT) and Laurent Mignonneau (FR)
Tom Wallace (resonance.fm/UK)
Steve Symons (UK).
Sound in wireless environments. How do sound and wireless offer different ways of experiencing space and the city, and where do they connect.
3.40pm, May 1st
Colin Fallows (Chair, UK)
Tim Cole (SSEYO/Tao Group UK)
Hugh Davies (UK)
Max Eastley (UK)
Russell Mills (UK)
Perspectives on location within site specific sound. Augmenting debate around Locative media, this session explores how location is encountered in other artforms. Artists presentations include: mobile phones as music making creativity systems, found sounds and sound objects as documented in the new book with accompanying CD Sounds Heard, recordings from the High Arctic made during the Cape Farewell expedition (2003), and the symbolic potential of sound as signifier, as metaphoric carrier of associative potential.
Create your own animations and ringtones for mobile phones, with the-phone-book Limited (UK) who specialise in the creation and distribution of content for wireless devices worldwide.
April 30th to May 2nd, 10am-8pm. Urbis
Multi-hop Dynamic Routing Ad-hoc Network Workshop
Katherine Moriwaki (US) presents a participatory workshop on physical co-location, proximity, and group interaction in ad hoc networking, exploring artistic and playful responses to emerging telecommunications infrastructure.
April 30th, 10am-2pm. Urbis. Learning Suite
Trip the loop, make your switch, Consume the net
Build your own wireless network with pioneers of the Free Networks movement Consume (UK). Introduction to the consume web, wiki and node database. The Free networking toolbox, antenna building, node configuration, routing, leaching and meshing. Build and install a Consume-Futuresonic WLAN node, and use it to present the video of the workshop.
April 30th, 2.30pm-6.30pm. Urbis. Learning Suite
The interactive creative possibilities of the Soundbeam sensing technology (UK). Soundbeam is a device which uses ultrasonic sensors to detect at a distance of up to six meters without physical contact - the direction, speed, and distance of physical movements, translating this into MIDI for the real time manipulation of both audio and visual material.
May 1st. 10.30am-11.30am. Urbis. Learning Suite
Locative Media Tactical Tool Fair
The Locative Media Lab and friends (UK/CA/US) present demos, tests and short talks on tools for collaborative cartography, hot on the heels of a ground breaking session at ETCON and part of a series of events and workshops during 2004. With Jo Walsh, Gabe Sawhney (murmurtoronto.ca), Jen Southern (www.areacode.org.uk), Earle Martin (openguides.org), Chris Heathcote (undergroundlondon.com/antimega), Karlis Kalnins (locative.org), Jeremy Wood (GPS drawing), Mikel Marron (worldkit), and others
Presented in association with Locative Media Lab. www.locative.org
May 1st. 12.00pm-5.00pm. Urbis. Learning Suite
Mobile Connections was conceived and curated by Drew Hemment, Director of Futuresonic and since February 2007 Associate Director of ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University