workshop Mobile Habits 29 June @Balie Amsterdam

Thursday, June 29 Esther Polak in cooperation with Virtueel platform has organized the workshop Mobile Habits about mapping and mobility in the Balie in Amsterdam. Since I work together with Esther and Ab in the Fulani project, I attended.
About 25 artists, designers and scientists showed up, which turned out to be a very inspiring mix of people. Overall the most surprising and stimulating of the whole day in my opinion was that all more or less spoke the same language.

Apart from a couple of interesting talks by Esther Polak and Christian Nold, Hanne Kirstine Adriansen and Ab Drent, there were also session were the audience had to ‘work’.

Read Auke on Informationlab.org

Click the link below to read some notes I scribbled down during the day. The sign > means a personal thought that occurred to me while listening.

interview Christian Nold by Esther Polak
Mapping mobility is about turning the 3D world into an intelligible 2D representation, adding layer(s) of extra information to geographical maps, depicting e.g. movement, habitual patterns, opinion. It is often impelled by a specific need, like the project Geoskating.org.
> How does the mobile phone lead to a specific view of spatial environment? E.g. a mental mapping of space according to reception levels, being monitored (by teachers, parents, your lover, etc.), being able to call privately, being on display, etc.
So the conclusion is that mobile technollogies are attached to place, they are not turning space into a non-issue, or ‘free’.
> Locative media are about translating spatial experiences into maps.
Charles Booth made the poverty map (booth.lse.ac.uk) which is actually a crime map of London in the late 19th century.
Amsterdam Real Time (Esther’s project) with its routes fading over time challenges space as something that never fades, is always there, permanent. .
> This brings in a temporal aspect to space: space is something that one must move in in order to keep it alive (just like old anthropological literature writing about Australian Aboriginal ‘Songlines’: routes that must be walked in order to keep them alive.)
> Just like addresses in your mobile phone: you must maintain them, else the fade away.

Hanne Kirstine Adriansen
Space > place: inhabiting space by material objects you carry along, making the space private, create a sense of belonging to that place.
– Belonging to place
– Connecting with others
– Materializing
> How is the mobile phone used to turn space into place?

Ab Drent
Nomads live closer together, more intense, which leads Esther to say she got the impression Fulani live in a soap opera, which Ab doesn’t like, but I think is an apt description.
> The mobile phone intensifies interactions: meeting/interacting more often. The limiting of setting and time, mediated by the mobile phone, is like a soap opera: playful interactions all the time, not time for self, being alone.
Rationale for mobility is not always conscious, to be on the move is an aim in itself. Who decides? It is a complex of factors, whence the use of Actot Network Theory (ANT).

Workshop afternoon
– Maps & surveillance: visualizing for instance poverty or criminality quickly leads to stereotyping.
– Cattle is the real estate of nomadic people
– There are connections between mobility of products and global networks (e.g. milk) and local poverty and economic malaise.
– Cultural education is needed for understanding maps. People are not born with the ability to read a 2D birds-eye representation of the real 3D world.
– Mobility is not always spatial movement. Take for example the Fulani who often stay in one place but are nomadic people. Mobility is more a lifestyle, an attitude, a strategy (..if necessary, we move on..)
– Hybridizing space in project ‘Roam is my home’ in central museum Utrecht last year” web technology & museum as setting.
– Between different worlds we need translators. Just like the guy who successfully explained GPS to the Fulani by saying it orients itself using invisible stars the Americans shoot up in heaven, so you cannot use the device under a tree or in a building, because then it doesn’t see the stars..
– Data and visualization are the same, says Christian Nold, they are both about materializing space.
– Birds eye view of earth: what is the influence of depicting earth like this on our perceptions of space? E.g. the ecological view that came into being with the photo’s shot from space shuttles.
– Crowd and mobs are a threat to those in power.

Ideas by other groups
– Visual representation & science are not on friendly foot. Make science too colorful and understandable, then the mystery of science gets lost, it becomes too profane and obvious.
– Visualization: reflections on spatial use, turning space into place.

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