What Locative Media should focus on
March 15th, 2008

Roman Tol of the University of Amsterdam’s Institute of Network Culture *) published an extensive summary of the Rotterdam Mobile City Conference, held on February 28.

[Roman Tol (‘77) is a Dutch new media fan, reviewer, and critic. Roman obtained a Master degree at the University of Amsterdam (New Media and Digital Culture). His thesis-research concentrated on two relatively new phenomena: Locative Media and Protocol]

The Mobile City Conference concerned the interplay of physical and digital spaces, and the influence of locative and mobile media on urban culture and identities.

Currently Locative Media projects receive large academic and commercial funding. Various theorists assert the history of media to have moved from analogue to digital to virtual and now to locative. Commercial ventures are interested in Locative Media projects for their experimentation value. The city is used as a testing ground for technological applications, usability and reliability. Christian Nold (a London-based artist and lecturer) observed that Locative Media do not exist anymore as a community but has splintered into a number of different directions; on the one hand Locative Media can refer to the technology (mobile devices connected to the Internet, security equipment and navigation technology), on the other hand it refers to outdoor gaming and art practices with the use of portable location aware devices. What has emerged, Christian states, is a strong focus on audience and the specificity of place. Christian believes Locative Media should focus on gathering, sharing, playing, visualizing, imagining, contextualizing, archiving and meeting educative challenges. Locative Media has a decentralizing value that allows social spaces to be opened up and empower communities.

Locative Media also allows publics to experience familiar places from an alternative perspective. In Sensory Deprivation Mapping participants were deprived of sight and hearing and asked to roam the city in order to create a map based on other senses. The result is a map based on how fresh the air is or how windy certain areas are.

Locative Media has a quality to bring the local, hidden, repressed and silent to the surface. People are constantly bombarded with signs (ads, road-signs, neon lights, screens, facades) when traveling through urban space, making it difficult for certain places to stand out, places that might tell an interesting or important story. In one of Christian’s projects people in Stockport (UK) were asked to draw emotional arousal in relation to their geographical location in the town.

For more on Christian Nold’s talk, also read this review by Twan Eikelenboom.

For an extensive review of Stephen Graham’s contribution titled ‘The Politics of Urban Space’ go to Tjerk Timan’s report on Masters of New Media

[*) mailing lists Listcultures.org]

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