Mobile Conviviality
Mimi Sheller / Drexel University, Center for Mobilities Research and Policy

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New mobile medialities create the conditions for generative cultural and spatial practices that are transforming fundamental dimensions not only of contemporary urban culture but also potentially of political space and forms of civic engagement. As I concluded in my previous post on “Mobile Mediality” , some new media artists and activists have aimed to avoid the commercial imperatives associated with technological innovation and to instead create disruptive spaces of resistance, of sharing, and of convivial publics. Such practices may present a real challenge (or at least a playful mockery) to existing mobility regimes, which emphasize surveillance, remote control via locative and tracking technologies, the mining of big data, and the proliferation of “smart” networked infrastructure and autonomous vehicles.

If digital social media and mobile information and communication technologies are enabling people to be on the move, to connect and disconnect, and to enact presence and absence in new ways, how are the day-to-day appropriations of mobile media and geo-locational data producing new relations of people to community, civic interaction and political communication? Mobile locative art and social networks, mobile gaming and civic hacking can extend social and spatial activities which are more akin to “serendipitous play” than to commercial types of “gamification”, marketing or monetization. I will briefly illustrate each of the following examples, ranging from the more playful to the more political, leading up to the concept of mobile conviviality as a mode of media-interconnected political engagement.

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As an event at documenta (13) put it, drawing on the concept of conviviality in the work of Ivan Illich: “To think about conviviality today means to address the notion of equality under the point of view of social interaction, the way the notion of presence has been interpreted by the social media, the debate around modes of dissent and engagement, and the understanding of political and public forms of distribution.” (( http://d13.documenta.de/#/programs/the-kassel-programs/congresses-lectures-seminars/on-conviviality/. While drawing on Ivan Illich’s ideas in Tools for Conviviality (1975), the recent uptake of his work does not necessarily reject technology, but reappropriates mobile media for creativity and autonomous social intercourse.))


1. Soundscapes and acoustic walks

The prevalence of ear-buds on hand-held devices has encouraged the proliferation of sound-based interventions into urban mobility, creating new soundscapes that interact with location. Games like Dimensions, by RjDj, make the claim that they are totally immersive, blending game play into your life: “Dimensions isn’t played on the touchscreen of your device, it is played in your real life. The app makes use of every possible sensor on the iPhone and intertwines game play deeply into your daily life. In Dimensions, you really are inside the game – its not just a marketing phrase!” (( http://dimensions.rjdj.me/download/))


Such interactions may have a gaming element, as Dimensions does, by allowing the player to open or access different levels; but others simply allow for acoustic drift and serendipitous encounters with place, noise, and ambience. Indeed, rather than immersing the listener “inside the game”, the experience may be switched to immersing reality in a new social perception. Walking in a sonically augmented space may then become an interface for engaging locational memory in more politically poignant ways, as described below.

2. Situated interactive locational annotation

More serious works, like “Alter Bahnhof Video Walk”, produced for Documenta(13) by the husband-and-wife artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, use mobile video and sound to produce a disorienting yet magical layering of time-space. Place-based memories are re-embodied in an immersive and intimate yet public soundwalk that enrols the audience, passersby, and architectural spaces in a hybrid experience.


Like interactive mobile gaming, these kinds of public mobile art projects also generate a kind of mixed reality immersion, but often with a more disruptive aim to defamiliarize, and perhaps politicize, the otherwise mundane experience of the here and now. It also reminds us of alternative uses of our ready-to-hand technologies of communication, undermining the demands of immediacy and instantaneity with a counter-temporality.

As Robert Grusin ((Grusin, R. (2010) Premediation: Affect and Mediality after 9/11. Houndmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.)) explains, the emphasis on immediacy now is “epitomized in the form of IT models like cloud computing or projects like Open ID and the Open Web, which aim to make seamless one’s multiple interactions with commercial and social networking, with health and medical records, juridical and educational records, shopping and entertainment preferences”, based in an “unconstrained connectivity so that one can access with no restrictions one’s socially networked mediated life at any time or anywhere through any of one’s media devices” ((Grusin, R. (2010) Premediation: Affect and Mediality after 9/11. Houndmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.)). Against this wave of unrestricted access and seamless connectivity it can be productive to let hidden histories and jarring alternative narratives leak into the present.

3. Location-based games for civic engagement

PETLab at Parsons School of Design, directed by Colleen Macklin, uses games as a form of public interest engagement. Re:Activism, for example, is “a location-based urban game that maps the history of activism onto the public spaces where they occurred, as players reenact and re-create the actions that once took place there.” All it requires to play is a mobile phone with a camera and the ability to text message, posterboard, markers, and pamphlets.

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Playing the game provides “space and strategies for new interpretations of the issues that activated those in the past. While the game explores history, its primary content is active: the relationship between navigating the city and organizing actions in order to express and document new strategies for public engagement.” (( http://petlab.parsons.edu/newWeb/index.php?content=none&project=reactivism)) Here the capabilities of mobile navigation and locational place-memory are leveraged to instigate active civic engagement and reanimate repertoires for activism. Taking it to the streets, it combines low-tech means with mobile phones, GPS mapping, and popular social media like texting.

4. Grassroots Mapping and Civic Hacking

Grassroots Mapping has various origins, but one current version of it seeks to “invert the traditional power structure of cartography”. Using helium balloons and kites equipped with inexpensive digital cameras, people from Lima, Peru, to post-Katrina Louisiana have been able to create “community satellites”. As its founders argue, “By creating open-source tools to include everyday people in exploring and defining their own geography, we hope to enable a diverse set of alternative agendas and practices, and to emphasize the fundamentally narrative and subjective aspects of mapping over its use as a medium of control.” Like other such recent movements, grassroots mapping seeks to reappropriate technologies of surveillance, visualization and data collection for civic purposes.

Civic hacking has emerged recently as a national movement to turn open data into a wide range of socially useful applications. Mobile Apps like SeeClickFix, for example, proclaim that “With a few clicks, citizens can report and monitor problems in their community using their iPhone, Android, or Blackberry device. The SeeClickFix mobile apps make it easy and accessible for everyone to communicate concerns to government in real time.”

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Not only can citizens communicate concerns, but their reports can be directly integrated into data systems for actual service requests. Spearheaded by Code for America, civic hacking has now been adopted by many municipalities and even by the federal government. The city of Philadelphia, for example, appointed Mark Headd from Code for America to serve as its first ever Chief Data Officer in August 2012. ((http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/article/Hacking-for-the-civic-good-at-SXSW-4340768.php#ixzz2NFqi7QF3)) The Obama administration announced an Open Government Initiative, and a National Day of Civic Hacking has been declared for the weekend of June 1-2, 2013. These initiatives adopt the do-it-yourself and tech-geek attitude but apply it to creative forms of citizenship and participation that adopt loocative mobile technologies for bottom-up mobilization and “sousveillance”.


5. Digital sharing economies and mobile convivium

Others, however, take a more disruptive approach to engaging the circuits of media and power, which may lead to more radical forms of mobile convivium. The Transborder Immigrant Tool is a project created by the Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT) 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab, based at the University of California at San Diego. They envisioned a very basic hand-held GPS-enabled cell phone that could be given to migrants attempting to cross the Mexico-U.S. border to help them locate water caches in the desert, as an emergency precaution, while also sending them text messages with poetry to help re-humanize the border encounter. This controversial work in a sense tries to enact a humanized transborder space of conviviality that extends hospitality across lines of alienation, while reappropriating mobile technologies that have been envisioned as facilitators of an exclusionary “smart border”. A sense of its poetic and theoretical quality is conveyed in a video they produced for ISEA 2009 in Dublin: (( Video exhibited in ‘Space is the Place’ exhibition at the Gallery of the National College of Art & Design in Dublin, for ISEA 2009. Text of poems: Amy Sara Carroll; Video poems design: Ricardo Dominguez, Micha Cárdenas, and Elle Mehrmand; Voices included in the poems: Micha Cárdenas, Amy Sara Carroll, Césaire Carroll-Dominguez, Patrick Carroll, and Ricardo Dominguez; Collaborative inspiration: Brett Stalbaum.))

Conclusion

There is a field of emerging research concerning creativity, social mobilization, and the formation of new mobile publics and mobile arts practices at the intersection of locative arts and the digitally augmented urbanism that some describe as “networked place” ((Varnelis, K. and Friedberg, A. (2006) “Place: Networked Place”, in Networked Publics (MIT Press), Accessed 10 October 2010 at: http://networkedpublics.org/book/place
)) or “hybrid space” ((de Souza e Silva, A. & D. M. Sutko (Eds.) (2009) Digital Cityscapes: Merging Digital and Urban Playspaces (New York: Peter Lang).)). Emergent practices of mobile mediality elicit both utopian hopes and dystopian fears about pervasive computing, augmented reality and responsive environments.

The projects reviewed here suggest some of the potentials of mobile mediality to afford new sites for more modest creative interventions, public participation and civic engagement. The deployment of the mobile internet, hand-held devices, and locational technologies may simultaneously assist in the reformation of the dominant mobility regimes by providing potential spaces for critique, political dissent, and counter-organization. If these artistic modalities are indeed producing new understandings of our contemporary situation, and as I have argued new forms of mobile conviviality, then perhaps we can also use these tools and techniques to generate new research methodologies and new tactics for interventions in the networked spaces of digital urbanism.

Image Credits:
1. https://itunes.apple.com/app/dimensions-game-new-experience/id473626010?mt=8
2. http://www.amazon.com/Tools-Conviviality-Ivan-Illich/dp/1842300113
3. http://petlab.parsons.edu/newWeb/index.php?content=none&project=reactivism
4. http://seeclickfix.com/apps

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Mobile Mediality II: Locative Mobile Gaming
Mimi Sheller, Drexel University

Early Locative Mobile Game, played in Japan: Mogi (Newt Games, Paris, 2003)

Early Locative Mobile Game, played in Japan: Mogi (Newt Games, Paris, 2003)

In my previous column on mobile mediality I considered the development of mobile art as “a diverse set of practices that are not simply about screening digital art on portable devices, but might involve sound walks, psychogeographic drifts, site-specific story-telling, public annotation, digital grafitti, collaborative cartography, or more complex ‘mixed-reality’ interactions.” Now I want to shift the focus to practices that are more properly understood as locative mobile gaming (LMG), which is to say multi-player games that are usually built on a smart-phone platform making use of some combination of GPS with Bluetooth short range data exchange, WiFi wireless internet, SMS short messaging service, and cell networks. Such games are also contributing to the emergence of mobile mediality as a new set of practices for interacting with places, data, and screens.

While mobile art tends to heighten one’s experience of place or embodied sensory perception, LMG is oriented more towards sheer enjoyment of a new kind of hypermediated space through play. Yet it also has implications for the wider production of “augmented” urban space and “net-locality” ((Gordon, E. and de Souza e Silva, A. (2011) Net Locality: Why location matters in a networked world, Boston: Blackwell Publishers.)), because it draws on location-aware and proximity-aware capacities that are gradually extending into more and more everyday activities. Basic forms of LMG begin with “collecting games” within mobile locative social networks such as SCVNGR, a game “about doing challenges in places”, or Foursquare, in which participants collect “badges” and compete for “mayorships” by checking into particular locations. But it extends towards more complex gaming interfaces that involve multiple players interacting through avatars, game actions, and game screens, as they move through physical space, collecting virtual objects but also potentially generating other kinds of social interactions ((Licoppe, C. and Inada, Y. (2006) “Emergent Uses Of A Multiplayer Location-Aware Mobile Game: The Interactional Consequences Of Mediated Encounters”, Mobilities 1(1): pp. 39-61)) ((Licoppe, C. and Inada, Y. (2009) “Mediated Proximity and Its Dangers in A Location-Aware Community: A Case Of ‘Stalking”, in A. de Souza e Silva, & D. M. Sutko (Eds.) Digital Cityscapes: Merging Digital and Urban Playspaces, pp. 100-128 (New York: Peter Lang) )). Mixed Reality (MR) gaming combines virtual data with physical locations, generating an immersive and interactive real-time environment, with the potential for narrative and creative story-telling (such as cinema) to take new social and spatial forms.

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An early MLG: Japan’s Colonial Living PLUS (Colopl Inc., 2005)

Such mobile locative games first became popular in Japan, beginning with the socially connected mobile roaming game Mogi (Newt Games, Paris, 2003), followed by games like Colonial Living PLUS (Colopl Inc., 2005). As early players enthused, these games hinted at an emerging mixed reality future: “Giving people the tools to play together in the city: Mogi is a brilliant, obvious envisioning of location-based gaming. Mobile multiplayer the way it was meant to be, providing a data layer players can affect and participate in together, as they inhabit the real world. Today on the streets of Tokyo, Mogi is a shimmering glimpse of what is to come – real and virtual coming in direct physical contact through us the players.” ((http://thefeaturearchives.com/100501.html, 01 April 2004, accessed 04 January 2013))

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Mogi – “Players can see on their mobile phones a map of Tokyo showing the location of hidden items, as well as other players.” Courtesy of Paul Baron

In locative mobile gaming, the game world is notionally superimposed onto the city’s surface, and the game narrative can influence the players’ movement within the city ((Drakopoulou, Sophia (2010) A Moment of Experimentation: Spatial Practice and Representation of Space as Narrative Elements in Location-based Games. Aether: Journal of Media Geography, 5A: 63-76.)), understood now as a “networked place” ((Varnelis, K. and Friedberg, A. (2006) “Place: Networked Place”, in Networked Publics (MIT Press), Accessed 10 October 2010 at: http://networkedpublics.org/book/place)). Even in its most rudimentary forms, a transformative potential was sensed. Mobile locative games create a social world that encompasses the vicinity of the players, while the players’ spatial practice forms the conditions for progress within the game narrative. Thus they give new meanings to the players’ physical location, by lending it a mediated resonance as part of the game-play.

Locative mobile gaming can combine analog and digital concepts of play, as well as links between a computer-based interface and phone-based interface. For example, “Rider Spoke” (2007) is a mobile game for urban cyclists, designed by the British collective, Blast Theory, which combines theater with cycling and mobile game play in a public urban environment. Their ideas of immersive theater were developed further in another hybrid mobile gaming project, “You Get Me” (2008), and later “I’d Hide You” (2012) launched at the FutureEverything Festival 2012 in Manchester. Participants logged in online to join runners on the streets of Manchester, seeing the world through their live-streamed video headsets, and interacting and directing the runners as they played a game of team tag ((http://vimeo.com/48141546)).


I’d Hide You from Blast Theory on Vimeo.

Studies of mobile gaming raise crucial questions about how such mobile mediality potentially blurs, undermines, or transforms privacy, publics, place-making and social connections. Some critics charge that many forms of “gamification” are simply a commercialization of mobile social networks (used to promote products or nearby places through free offers and e-coupons). Problems with stalking and concerns over locational privacy have emerged in some gaming contexts ((Licoppe, C. and Inada, Y. (2009) “Mediated Proximity and Its Dangers in A Location-Aware
Community: A Case Of ‘Stalking”, in A. de Souza e Silva, & D. M. Sutko (Eds.) Digital Cityscapes: Merging Digital and Urban Playspaces, pp. 100-128 (New York: Peter Lang).)). Others feel that such games may potentially promote a technological apparatus of surveillance that “intersects with corporate and military interests.” ((Farman, Jason (2012) Mobile Interface Theory: Embodied Space and Locative Media, London and New York: Routledge)) ((Tuters, M. and Varnelis, K. (2006) “Beyond Locative Media: Giving shape to the internet of things”, in Networked Publics (MIT Press). Accessed 10 October 2010 at http://networkedpublics.org/locative_media/beyond_locative_media))

Augmented reality applications will become increasingly important in the production of new mobile games. Smartphones have already brought applications like Junaio and Layar into common use, with digital pop-up ads and mobile augmented reality [AR] covers appearing on magazines (e.g.,Time Out New York Kids, Esquire, Popular Science) and 3-D displays in catalogues (e.g., IKEA 2013). Mobile locative apps are beginning to flourish with AR data displays promising to guide us to coffee shops and subway stops, reveal historical photographs and lost buildings, star gaze and navigate mountainous terrain, not to mention shoot baskets and fight aliens. Locational 3-D simulations are making their way into architectural practice, design charrettes, and urban planning. And mobile AR games are starting to appear that engage players with virtual objects and networked players embedded into their physical surroundings ((De Souza e Silva, Adriana and Sutko, Daniel M. (eds.) (2009), Digital Cityscapes: Merging Digital and Urban Playspaces (New York: Peter Lang).)).

In 2013 such applications will be improving their capabilities by incorporating new motion-detection and proximity sensors. Start-up companies are jumping into the market, pulling data from the cloud and ever more tightly coupling it with geo-spatial locations. New platforms are also emerging. TIME magazine declared Google’s Project Glass the best invention of 2012 because “it’s the device that will make augmented reality part of our daily lives,” although not until it debuts on the market in 2014. It will certainly be of great interest to game designers and players. And car makers like Mercedes-Benz were showing off their plans for augmented-reality and gesture-controlled features on car windshields at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with even more new AR platforms in store for 2013. Will cars be the next platform for AR and MR gaming?

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Google Project Glass


Project Glass Demo

In contrast to these commercial trends and worries about the social impacts of mobile gaming, we might instead ask whether it is possible to build vibrant games that use mobile, geo-located, and/or augmented reality experiences for more positive, or at least thoughtful, forms of interaction with place, locality, and public engagement. As noted in the previous column on Mobile Mediality, many artists are already experimenting with these potentials. We can envision ways in which mobile locative gaming might extend and build on the following activities, which are more akin to “serendipitous play” than more commercial types of “gamification”:

Urban annotation and gleaning
Situated interactive oral history
Soundscapes and acoustic walks
Public mobile art projects as mixed reality immersion
Location-based social networking games for civic engagement
Grassroots mapping and open data participatory games
Digital sharing economies and convivial spaces

Because mobile locative gaming offers new ways for mobile connectivity to be drawn into gaming activity, it can be considered as a form of “remediation” of gaming in which “the real is no longer that which is free from mediation, but that which is thoroughly enmeshed with networks of social, technical, aesthetic, political, cultural, or economic mediation” ((Grusin, Robert (2010) Premediation: Affect and Mediality after 9/11. Houndmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.)). In that regard, there is a drive to produce alternative practices of mobile mediality, some of which are pushing towards the commercialization of mobile gaming, but others are aiming to create more disruptive spaces of resistance, of sharing, and of convivial mobile publics. I will explore these possibilities further in the final column on mobile mediality.

Image Credits:
1. Early Locative Mobile Game, played in Japan: Mogi (Newt Games, Paris, 2003)
2. An early MLG: Japan’s Colonial Living PLUS (Colopl Inc., 2005)
3. Mogi – “Players can see on their mobile phones a map of Tokyo showing the location of hidden items, as well as other players.” Courtesy of Paul Baron
4. Google Project Glass

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Mobile Mediality
Mimi Sheller / Professor of Sociology, Drexel University


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Leila Nadir of ecoarttech with generative art application that created environmental responses during the Joya: Arte y Ecología Residency

Many emerging forms of social interaction are accomplished in motion, leading to practices that I call “mobile mediality”, understood as a new form of hybrid mediated spatiality. Through everyday practices of moving around, seeking information and communicating with others, we are creating new ways of interacting with people, with places, with services, and with screens while moving or pausing in movement. In this series I will consider some aspects of this emerging hybrid space of mobile mediality, starting with an introduction to mobile art in Part I, then turning to wider practices and implications of mobile mediality in Parts II and III, including mobile gaming, augmented reality, mobile news, locationally-aware social networks, motion sensors and augmented reality apps.

Mobile Art

The 50th anniversary issue of Artforum focuses on the art world’s ambivalence about new media art and more broadly what art critic Claire Bishop calls “an eschewal of the digital and the virtual” (Bishop 2012: 436) (( Bishop, Claire, (2012) ‘Digital Divide’, Artforum, Vol. 51, No. 1 (September 2012), pp. 435-41. )). In her piece, “Digital Divide”, Bishop asks “Whatever happened to digital art?”:

“While many artists use digital technology, how many really confront the question of what it means to think, see, and filter affect through the digital? How many thematize this, or reflect deeply on how we experience, and are altered by, the digitization of our existence? I find it strange that I can count on one hand the works of art that do seem to undertake this task (Bishop 2012: 436).”

While pointing towards a few video artists who show in major galleries, like Ryan Trecartin’s visually demented hyper mash-up videos (see clip below), Bishop goes on to dismiss “an entire sphere of ‘new media’ art,” which, she says, “is a specialized field of its own: It rarely overlaps with the mainstream art world.” Although Trecartin’s work addresses issues of hyper-mobility and new media cultures, it is not mobile in terms of the medium itself or the viewer experience.

ANY EVER (Trailer), Ryan Trecartin PS1 from Ryan Trecartin on Vimeo.

Trailer for “Any Ever” by Ryan Trecartin

Moble digital technology, however, is moving video artwork off the gallery wall. One way to think of “mobile art” would be as a kind of “app” that offers screen-based digital art that you can access on a personal mobile device, such as those described in Jonah Brucker-Cohen’s series “Art in Your Pocket” for New York-based digital arts collective Rhizome. From software art and screen-based work to those “pioneering the next generation of portable media art” on smart phones, Brucker-Cohen reviews “artists who are interacting with the physical world by using the device’s internal sensors, location capabilities, constant Internet connectivity, and built-in cameras”. Yet all of the art he engages with remains curiously static, viewed by one person on a personal-sized screen and easily returned to one’s pocket. None of the works he includes extend outward to a physical and mobile experience, to a sensory engagement with surroundings mediated through digital technology, nor to a social engagement with other people, collectives, or publics.

In my series of recent collaborations with Philadelphia-based artist Hana Iverson, including a double session on Mobile Art: The Aesthetics of Mobile Network Culture in Place Making at the 2012 College Arts Association conference, a co-curated exhibition called LA Re.Play, and a special issue of Leonardo Electronic Almanac (Sheller, Iverson & Aceti, forthcoming) (( Sheller, Mimi, Iverson, Hana and Aceti, Lanfranco (eds) (forthcoming) “LA Re.Play”, Special Issue of Leonard Electronic Almanac Online. )), we suggest that mobile media art is one of the key arenas in which emergent interactions with sensory dimensions of place, temporality and presence itself are being explored. Mobile art includes a diverse set of practices that are not simply about screening digital art on portable devices, but might involve sound walks, psychogeographic drifts, site-specific story-telling, public annotation, digital grafitti, collaborative cartography, or more complex “mixed-reality” interactions. It tends to engage the body, the physical location, the digital interface, and social relations both near and distant.

Augmented Reality walk by Manifest.AR for LA Re.Play, Los Angeles, 2012.

Augmented Reality walk by Manifest.AR for LA Re.Play, Los Angeles, 2012

While blurring the distinction between physical and digital, bodily and virtual, artwork and everyday space, creator and audience, mobile art often raises crucial personal and political questions about surveillance, inclusion, and (dis)connection; and crucial theoretical questions about the relation between physical space, networked space, and the growing experience of hybrid space. As media theorist Adriana De Souza e Silva argues (( De Souza e Silva, Adriana (2006), ‘From cyber to hybrid: Mobile technologies as interfaces of hybrid spaces’, Space and Culture 3, 261–278. )), “Hybrid space abrogates the distinction between the physical and the digital through the mix of social practices that occur simultaneously in digital and in physical spaces” (de Souza e Silva 2006, 265). The mobile media artists who interest us are exploring how to create or move within these hybrid spaces of amplified reality via new modes of open (yet critically attuned) engagement with embodied experience, with urban and natural landscapes, and with digitally-mediated public space.

For example, artists Leila Nadir and Cary Peppermint of ecoarttech (see Fig. 1 above) present “Indeterminate Hikes+” as “a mobile media app that transforms everyday landscapes into sites of bio-cultural diversity and wild happenings. Generally devices of rapid communication and consumerism, smartphones are re-appropriated by IH+ as tools of environmental imagination and meditative wonder, renewing awareness of intertwining biological, cultural, and media ecologies and slowing us down at the same time.” (see Video Clip 2)

“Indeterminate Hikes+” by ecoarttech

Digital art is in many cases becoming more mobile, taking advantage of the physical and informational affordances of the mobile phone interface, but it is important to understand mobile art as more than simply miniature and portable personal screens. Mobile art has in fact expanded the spatial and social field in which art takes place by experimenting with the full range of affordances of the mobile interface. Another good example is the recent work of artists LoVid, whose iParade#2 “uses GPS data and includes video, sound, and texts that are accessible only in specific geographic locations” and which blurs the boudary between the physically present and the digitally mediated by creating a hybrid space of mixed reality. (see Video Clip 3)

“iParade#2” by Lovid

Likewise, artist Jenny Marketou uses “the city as a space, and the electronic communication networks as platforms and creative tools for intervention and connection between exhibition space, public space and social interaction.” Marketou states that “My approach to using digital media is usually a commentary on the media itself, the context in which this media can be found, and the way in which it affects community structures, patterns of communication and the politics of space. Projects aim to generate discourse, and often function as live public experiments.” (Interview, forthcoming in Sheller, Iverson and Aceti; See Fig. 3).

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RED EYED SKY WALKERS, 2010, by Jenny Marketou, outdoor installation view, 99 red helium weather balloons, 5ft diameter, wi-fi video cameras, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece

These kinds of mobile artworks that extend outside of the device in your pocket and into surrounding public space potentially enable people to engage with mediated spatiality and augmented landscapes in unexpected ways by generating new forms of public experience, open-ended interaction, and potentially critical praxis. This phenomenon extends beyond relational aesthetics and beyond mobile gaming, by re-spatializing and re-mediating our experience of embodied mobility and communication. What is notable is that in incorporating cell phones, digital media, and mobile screens, mobile art does not exist simply as software on a smartphone tucked in your pocket. It is instead deeply networked with other bodies, spaces, practices, scales and relations, including the corporeal, the sensory, and the navigational, as well as the economic and the political. In the next post I will extend this discussion into the field of mobile gaming and mobile locative social networking, and their effects on contemporary mobile mediality.

Image Credits

1. Leila Nadir of ecoarttech on a hike using a generative art application that created algorithmic responses to the local environment, during the Joya: Arte y Ecología Residency
2. Augmented Reality walk by Manifest.AR for LA Re.Play, Los Angeles, 2012 (credit: John Craig Freeman, Manifest.AR)
3. RED EYED SKY WALKERS, 2010, by Jenny Marketou, outdoor installation view, 99 red helium weather balloons, 5ft diameter, wi-fi video cameras, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece. [image provided by the artist]

Please feel free to comment.