A sequence of Transcultural Mapping (TCM) workshops were held across Europe through the course of 2004 exploring the new term ‘locative media’ and giving artists the opportunity to work with local communities while exploring locative ideas.
After a year of workshops, RIXC, partners in the Locative Media Lab, and leaders on the Transcultural Mapping initiative, put out an open call for papers. This TCM reader is the result of that call
Locative media is a term that ties together a set of questions, critical perspectives and practices. Its catalytic premise was civilian awareness and engagement with a particular ‘operational construct’ with military origins. A combination of GPS, mobile data communications and mobile computing would allow the annotation of space. This catalytic premise is not locative media, it is not the goal or the point. Locative media is many things: A new site for old discussions about the relationship of consciousness to place and other people. A framework within which to actively engage with, critique, and shape a rapid set of technological developments. A context within which to explore new and old models of communication, community and exchange. A name for the ambiguous shape of a rapidly deploying surveillance and control infrastructure.
In its most literal form locative media marks a move from William Gibson’s dislocated cyberspace to Steve Mann’s interdimensional cyborgspace. Many questions are foregrounded by this. Technology is a hard edged reality, but it is also a carrier of metaphors, and those metaphors are often as important as the devices themselves. Technology suggests and conditions ways of thinking, ways of doing and ways of seeing. Beyond literal interpretations locative media is also used as a license to explore new forms of social, political and economic relations. Locative media above all triggers a whole range of interesting and rich human centred conversations .
In the texts that follow published in conjunction with the 7th International Art and Communication festival in Riga, Latvia, some of the many rich and different interpretations and projections on to the term ‘locative’ are explored:
• Using the model and metaphor of mobile located computing to question and explore cognition, synaesthesia, and identity.
• Exploring the symbiosis between power and cartography.
• Facing profound and explicit interdimensionality,interdisciplinarity e.g. the ability to simultaneously move through and address physical space and electronic space
• G.I.S. (geographic information systems) transitioning from military, industrial and academic application, usually on an organisational scale, to hacker, civilian and consumer appropriation and applications.
• How useful are derivatives of Buckminster Fullers ‘geosope’, 3d interactive earths for use in exploring, planning and understanding, now that we have access to them.
• Questioning the assumptions of the ‘objective’ traditional basemaps that are imported with these newly appropriated GIS, classical cartographic and cartogrammatic tools.
• Exploring subjectivity in mapping.
• Exploring the chasm between the map data freely available to hackers in the U.S. and the geospatial data cartels in Europe which differ from country to country but almost universally deny free access to mapping data.
• Can the term locative counter apparently omniscient terms like ‘ubiquitous’ and ‘pervasive’ computing which seem to suggest even before these technologies are fully rolled out that ‘all your base are belong to us’?
• Questions under the heading of ‘spectrum ecology’ raise the issue of the geographical, political and commercial realities of an appropriated and owned radio spectrum, with marginal free and unconditionally shared areas.
• Fleshing out locative dystopias and apocalypses (which may be a reason to be interested ..even fascinated by these technologies)
• Locative media and its relationship to performance and art practice.
• Living with more map than territory.
• Critiquing of surveillance and state control through locative media technologies.
• Locative media in tactical media contexts.
This prototype category ‘locative media’, a term coined by Karlis Kalnins, was explored at a cross-disciplinary workshop at K@2 in Karosta, Latvia in the late summer of 2003.
Following discussions in Karosta, a series of Transcultural Mapping workshops were initiated by Rasa Smite and RIXC as part of the E.U. culture 2000 programme. Rasa Smite is a Latvian artist who, together with her RIXC colleaugues, has been creating innovative cross-disciplinary workshop environments with groups of international and local artists for many years (notably the Acoustic Space Lab at the RT:32 radio telescope).
Following the TCM open call for papers Rasa Smite and Marc Tuters selected and edited texts for printed publication (translation work by: Mara Traumane, Ilva Skulte, Daina Silina, Linda Zemite; graphic design by Martins Ratniks) ..and for Rasa I put together this online TCM reader, an extended collection of the raw unedited texts.
The TCM reader can be read as setting some boundary stones for the test category of locative media.