Working blind with people and place that I hadn’t met before and also up against a forecast for torrential downpour, I armed myself with a large rucksack filled with explorer-y things, a story about having been sent to explore Gretton and some mild consternation that my explorer equipment hadn’t been delivered yet.
With the pupils’ expert assistance we did some excellent exploring that was sure to make Yasmin Boss extremely proud.
Pictures, pictures, pictures…
Those marked (JS) courtesy of James Steventon, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art.
The group decides that we need a map before we can start exploring and everyone settles down to draw a mapbit of something interesting/important in the village
The group decides that we're going to need a *really* big piece of paper to put all these mapbits on. Next job is to work out where all the mapbits go...
But how do we get from one mapbit to another? (JS)
Paths, roads and other details added to the gaps in the map. (JS)
A few of the girls hang behind at breaktime because they think they've figured out what the recently-delivered devices are. (JS)
Explorers set out to walk to some of the places on the map. (JS)
Using all our senses...
A confused Nikki The Explorer needing some things about the village hall explained to her. (JS)
The Pocket Park: many things to discover and examine. (JS)
Walking through the tunnel with the GPS devices to see what effect it has. (JS)
Explorers in the tunnel. (JS)
Small child. Large rucksack.
Discovering that drawing a line of where we've just been is actually quite difficult. (JS)
Recognising where home is on the device-drawn traces is even harder...
Recognising places. (JS)
My home-made GPS gadgets get the thumbs up. (JS)
Because - regardless of age - that moment when the LEDs come on is always a good one... (JS)
Investigating dark places and their effect on the gadgets we made. (JS)
Someone puts forward the hypothesis that the trace from the GPS module placed on the windowsill is the way it is because of all of the excitement in the room when we were making our gadgets. (JS)
A great day and a really nice group of people to work with.
Thanks to Garmin for supporting the day through the loan of several GPS devices.
This walk was to take us through woods and across open fields before ending at the roofless, unfinished Elizabethan building, so we were curious to see what traces these different environments would produce.
We walked from left to right, and for each image you can click through for a larger version.
Overview of the route taken (click for larger version). I like how the tracts of rapeseed echo the yellow of the marks we made
The traces start and end at the Skylark Café. We were here quite a while getting everyone togged up, which is why the lines are really dense. They're long and all over the place because we were inside and the GPS data gathered was inconsistent.
The traces get longer as we enter the woods, and there is another cluster as we pause at the Complaints Choir's hut. These traces are from the bag that James was carrying.
Here are my traces from inside the hut. (Clearer if you click through to the larger version)
Inside the woods, the lines are quite long, but they get shorter again once we emerge onto the field with a clear view of the sky
Here you can see three different characteristic traces from walking in the fields: the first as we walk across the field of young wheat; then the lines decrease in length as we walk across grass; then the lines get longer again as we walk with the trees close on one side
And here we are at the end of the walk. We enter from the bottom of the image and, after pausing by the big oak tree and the moat, have an explore around the shell of the building. Then we sup some hot chocolate by the hut at top left before making our way down the path to the car park and sit in the shed whilst we wait for the minibus to arrive.
You can download the traces from the walk as .kml files and open them in Google Earth to have a closer look.
My trace (controlling the buzzing, in two parts because I had to change the battery): Part 1, Part 2
James’s trace (logging more frequently): Part 1
This was the first outing for the sashes and also the first time I had used my differential GPS set-up in a rural landscape, so quite a step into the unknown…
So many people had volunteered to wear sashes that there was none for me to wear, so my feedback on how things were working was mostly done by quizzing people as we walked or listening carefully to try and hear the buzzes!
Here is a screenshot of my traces from the morning overlaid onto Google Earth.
It was a long route, so the lines don’t really show up at this level of zoom, except for the ‘major incidents’…
Starting clockwise from the top, the first spray of lines is fairly apt, as this marks the spot where one of my GPS modules fell off! It was some time before I noticed, and a while after that before, retracing our steps, we eventually found it submerged in a muddly puddle. Many, many thanks to the lady (Karen?) who came back with me to help me look. She also donated some tissue for the clean-up and, miraculously, a few minutes later the module was dried off, plugged in and working again. Phew!
My lines disappear as we enter the Rockingham Plantation; not due to interference, but the slightly more mundane reason of the battery running out! Although this was spotted pretty quickly, it was some time before the logging commenced again and, since we were still hot-footing it to try and catch up with the rest of the group, we covered quite a lot of ground in that interval.
The sight below was a very welcome one and made that much sweeter by the flecks of yellow from the sashes and the cries announcing that they had suddenly resumed buzzing as I came back into range!
The above point also marked the transition of the walk from rural to urban landscape as our route skirted along the edge of industrial parks on the outskirts of Corby. If you click through to the original – and slightly larger – image you can just about make out that at this point the lines get a bit longer.
Each line represents where my two GPS modules think they are at a moment in time – one end of the line is one module, the other end the other module. Therefore, the more they disagree, the longer the line is.
Out in the open, the modules get a pretty much direct line-of-sight connection to the signals coming from the satellites – the modules calculate similar positions and the lines are very short. (The sashes would have given a few short, weak buzzes.)
As we make our way through the large warehouses and factories, however, the GPS signals are more likely to reach the modules by indirect routes, bouncing off the buildings en route. The extra amount of time this takes affects the calculations of position. My lines get longer and your buzzes get more energetic.
As our route bends around to the left, something happens to cause one of my modules to lose its fix altogether. Here one end of the lines are fixed to a single point, whilst the other ends follow the route we walked. This happens again as we turn off the road onto the Jurassic Way (I think I changed batteries here.)
So, an interesting set of lines that tell a story, although it wasn’t what I set out to find out about! The lines from Charlotte’s logging device tell that particular story a lot better. Below are some excerpts (click on the images to see the original on Flickr), or you can download the .kml files, open them in Google Earth and have a good ol’ poke around. Part 1, Part 2.
Overview of the route taken (no major incidents!)
Smaller lines get bigger as the group enters the dense woodland of the plantation
Close-up of the lines produced when walking through the plantation - here it's obvious that the GPS modules think they're much further apart than they really are
The large buildings of the industrial units also produce long lines
Clusters of longer lines show where the group paused under trees to take turns crossing the stiles
The tunnel under the railway track
Leaving and entering Gretton village at both ends of the walk
So, some nice results there – both expected and unexpected!
I really liked how the group looked wearing their sashes and the resulting traces tell some interesting stories about the physicality of the landscape(s) we moved through.
The basic principle was to have a group of people all linked visually through the wearing of the sashes, but also connected through a network formed by radio transceivers built into the sashes.
One member of the group also wears a microcontroller unit that analyses discrepancies in GPS data and broadcasts instructions to the sashes to vibrate differently in accordance with the results. In this way, everyone who accepts the invitation to become a member of the group is able to feel what the broadcaster senses.
Broadcast unit with GPS modules, data logger and XBee radio for transmitting to the sashes
Sashes and sash innards - ATtiny85 microcontrollers, XBee radios and pager motors
The use of coloured armbands to signify the wearer to be a member of (or outcast from) a particular group is something we humans have been doing for a long, long time. Some research into the subject quickly seemed to suggest that there wasn’t any colour that didn’t have a loaded history so I chose to reclaim my yellow on the grounds that it did what I wanted it to do.
The yellow of the sashes makes the group visible as they move through the landscape. This weekend we’ve mostly been moving through and around fields of rapeseed.
In this context of distributed senses, I’m also interested in a reference to the armband worn in Germany and Austria to signify visual impairment:
So, for the last few days I’ve been inviting people to walk with me as part of a group.
You can wear the sash in any way that seems appropriate to you – on your arm, on your wrist, around your tummy, over your shoulder, around your leg… I impose a few restrictions; mostly just that the radios are on the top and the vibration motors are near your skin. It’s nice if the yellow fabric is visible, but keeping the electronics dry takes precedence, so this weekend quite a few were worn under waterproofs!
Together we have been learning about what restrictions the system puts on us: how far radio waves travel; how radio waves do not go around particular corners/bends; how long batteries last for etc
This weekend is that of the Corby Walking Festival and as part of my residency I’ve been commissioned to lead (or infiltrate) 3 events.
The first was on Saturday, when we took one of the Possibility Probes for a walk around the area by the Corby Cube – a mixture of town centre, great big architecture and a footpath through some woods.
Not much response from the probe until the swimming baths send it off the scale...
With mighty cold temperatures, squally showers and tuned-to-Birmingham settings that had worked well on our test walk but didn’t seem to be giving us much feedback now, we put up a bit of a fight but then conceded and headed to a cafe area in the Cube to look at the traces and have a good ol’ chat.
Annotated traces gathered on the Corby event - click for larger version
The second event was an 8 mile walk led by rambler David Craddock, for which I made some landscape-reactive sashes.
The weather was kind, there was a good bunch of people – many willing to don sashes – and the recalibrated code gave much better results. More discussion and results to follow, but here are a few images (courtesy of James Steventon, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art) in the meantime…
Mid-way pause and reunion
Concrete canyon, Gretton style
The group (and additions of yellow) make their way through the countryside
view from the top
We’ll be taking the sashes out again today for a 3 mile walk between Fermyn Woods Country Park and Lyveden New Bield.
I’m a few days into the residency with Fermynwoods Contemporary Art. The downstairs room of the lodge has been transformed into a production line for the landscape-reactive sashes I’m making for the walking festival events on Sunday and Monday.
Saturday’s walk will involve one of the Possibility Probes, so the other day we took it out for it’s first stroll in a rural setting. Still tuned to Birmingham city centre, we were pleasantly surprised at how it reacted nicely to the large trees and bluebell woods!
We also explored around Corby Cube and the town centre with some nice and intriguing reactions there too. Fingers crossed for good weather over the days to come – bring enquiring minds, suitable footwear (we’ll be off-roading it a bit) and warm/dry clothes!
From the Fermynwoods Contemporary Art website… [source]
GPS traces from a walk in Fermyn Woods
During 2012 we are continuing our exploration of walking and its impact on our understanding of the environment. As part of the Corby Walking Festival 2012, artist Nikki Pugh will be leading walks that allow participants to explore the use of GPS data as a measure of the effect of open terrain, the presence of buildings, and natural phenomena, whilst walking through the landscape to create drawings.
During a residency with Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, Pugh will be exploring the landscapes of Fermyn Woods, Corby and surrounding area through the lens of locative (GPS) technology. Pugh currently describes her practice as being located at the intersection of people, place, playfulness and technology.
5 May 2012 – from 11.00am until approximately 1pm
Join Pugh for an exploratory walk around the centre of Corby, exploring open space and key architectural highlights from both the steel town’s past and recent developments. Collaborate in navigating an object through the environment as it reacts with movement and the locations it passes through, before sharing the resulting drawing, a digital cartography of the morning’s walk. Departing from outside the Corby Cube, George Street, Corby, NN17 1QG.
Parking is available outside Corby Cube.
6 May 2012 – from 9.30am
Pugh will join rambler David Craddock for a leisurely walk via the Brookfield Plantation and Rockingham. Participate in the walk wearing a responsive sash making present an intimate connection between walking and the effect of the landscape on global positioning systems. The approximately 8 mile route is part urban and part rural, departing from Gretton Village Hall, Kirby Road, Gretton, NN17 3DB.
Limited free parking is available outside the Village Hall.
7 May 2012 – from 2.00pm
Pugh will lead participants over a 3 mile route from Fermyn Woods Country Park to Lyveden New Bield, previously explored through our Encounters programme. The walk will encompass dense forest, open fields and along the historic Lyveden Way to Lyveden New Bield and it’s Elizabethan garden. Wearing Pugh’s specially designed responsive sashes, experience the walk through the lens of GPS technology, before sharing the resulting drawing.
Departing from Skylark Café, Fermyn Woods Country Park, Lyveden Road, Brigstock, Kettering NN14 3HS. A minibus will be available to take participants who wish back to Fermyn Woods Country Park.
Parking is available at both Fermyn Woods Country Park and Lyveden New Bield.
All walks are free and do not require advance booking. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before the walk departs for registration and to receive a briefing on the walk ahead.
Walking is… the principal means by which someone encountering a different neighbourhood or foreign landscape gets under its skin or gets to know the social, cultural and physical terrain. Moving within different environments allows us to detect properties of sameness and difference and therefore form a comparative perspective and better understanding of ourselves and our relationship to the world.
Detours and Puzzles in the Land of the Living, Andrew Irving, University of Manchester
Hello, my name's Nikki. I make things happen.
My main area of enquiry is centred around interactions between people and place: often using tools and strategies from areas such as pervasive games and physical computing to set up frameworks for exploration.
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Artworks and other projects copyright Nicola Pugh 2003-2013, all rights reserved.
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