CeMoRe walking seminar

This post was originally published over on the By Duddon’s Side project blog: http://byduddonsside.wordpress.com
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My residency exploring the Duddon is part funded by the Centre for Mobilities Research at Lancaster University, and as part of my visiting fellowship with them I instigated a walk around an area of the Dunnerdale Fells.

Below are a selection of photos from the walk, more are over in this album on Flickr.

It wasn’t a guided tour as such, more an opportunity for people from various backgrounds to gather and to use the act of walking to observe and comment differently on the landscape.

A great mix of people came along, including artists, mobilities researchers, students and someone from the management school. (This is one of the things I like about Mobilities Studies – that it can bring in people from lots of different disciplines.)

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

Our initial introductions were hampered slightly by the fairly substantial climb right at the beginning, but we gradually got to know each other over the course of the following 4 miles or so.

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

The weather was cycling through a selection of different settings, althoug thankfully rain and fog weren’t on the menu and our hard work was rewarded with some stunning views and dramatic changes in light.

 

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

The immediate terrain also gave us plenty to think about as we negotiated a selection of bridleways and footpaths, sometimes requiring us to cross becks and other boggy bits.

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

The stone sheep fold (and nearby contemporary galvanised metal sheep feeder) were a bit of a jarring human presence up on the fells, just as we were starting to relax into the isolation.

 

 

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

We followed deep tyre tracks for a short while, but our attention here was more focused on the incredibly strong winds as we went over a particularly exposed ridge.

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

Oh, but the views though!

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

Stickle Tarn elicited a few exclamations along the lines of “Wow! Brilliant!” as we rounded a corner.

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

We decided up here was probably going to be the most sheltered spot we were going to find and so we settled down (briefly) for our lunch. We didn’t linger for long though, as it was bitingly cold and we were starting to feel the need to be moving again.

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

Our opportunity to warm up came with the very steep scramble up to the top of Stickle Pike  (seen from the other side in the photo below). The payback came in the form of views right out to Duddon Sands and the estuary.

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

Circling back around in the direction of Great Stickle, Tess (previously a Geology student, but now working towards a PhD in Art) taught us about how quartz tends to be found alongside other ores.

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

By the time we started to drop back down towards the floor of the valley, I’d also had conversations with people about guidebooks, how things get edited out of the record, Lord of the Rings, avatars and temperature, alternative formats for submitting work for assessment, and being the world expert on your practice.

Sadly I missed out on the conversation about the tapir.

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

The last section of our walk followed the course of the Duddon back upstream, and there were appreciative noises all round at the change in surroundings. Pretty much we could all understand why the Duddon has a special influence on people.

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

By this time I was nurturing a bit of a fascination for that moment when people leap across small streams, and managed to snap a few photos of jumpers in action.

CeMoRe walking seminar around Dunnerdale Fells

Shortly afterwards we had all made it back – dry – to the cars and then we relocated to the pub for a debrief chat about the things that we had noticed about the area and also about the effects of walking and talking at the same time as opposed to trying to cover the same ground whilst sat in a room somewhere.

 

 

Landscape-reactive Sashes at Mobilities Futures

Last week I was up in Lancashire for the Mobilities Futures conference at Lancaster University. Mobilities has been brewing in the periphery of my awareness for a couple of years now, so it was great to get a chance to immerse myself in so many interesting streams of thinking.

I was part of the artists’ programme leading a workshop using the landscape-reactive sashes I developed with Fermynwods Contemporary Arts last year as a tool to feed into research for Colony.

The session was based around a small group of people wearing the sashes walking in a loose group, in silence, around the campus for about an hour. Naturally it started to chuck it down with rain just as the workshop started…

Brave souls venture out into the Weather

A quick redux for those that weren’t there: the sashes are connected by a mesh radio network, all receiving broadcasts from a central node. This central node is monitoring GPS data to get a measure of inaccuracies. These inaccuracies can be caused by many different things, but typically multipath error is the main candidate:

The multipath effect is caused by reflection of satellite signals (radio waves) on objects. It was the same effect that caused ghost images on television when antennae on the roof were still more common instead of today’s satellite dishes.

For GPS signals this effect mainly appears in the neighbourhood of large buildings or other elevations. The reflected signal takes more time to reach the receiver than the direct signal. The resulting error typically lies in the range of a few meters.http://www.kowoma.de/en/gps/errors.htm

Once it has a value for the degree of error, the central node then broadcasts instructions for the sashes to vibrate in a particular pattern. Thus the general pattern is that the more built up or undercover an area is, the greater the extent of error induced into the GPS data and the more the sashes vibrate.

In open areas people wearing a sash would typically feel a gentle pulse every 30 seconds or so. In areas where there is not such a clear view of open sky, the sashes vibrate for longer and more intensely.

Transitioning from an undercover area to a more open one

Out in the open, but with large buildings nearby. The response of the sashes may still be influenced by these – it depends on the position of the satellites

Being a fairly miserable Friday morning outside of term time, there weren’t many people out and about on campus as we drifted around. We were smiled at a few times and some of us were asked either for directions or if we needed directions.

The latter points to something interesting. Most of our sashes were covered up by coats in order to protect the electronics: in the absence of this signifier, the way in which we were moving slowly marked us out as being slightly different.

Afterwards, one of the participants – someone who works on the campus – commented on this change of speed and the opportunity it gave for reflective thought.

A few others too reported on how their thoughts wandered at different times. The vibrations from the sashes come through every 20 to 30 seconds and they’re pitched at a moderate level so that they’re there as a sense to tune into if you wish, but they also fade into the background if not.

At the end of the session we were able to take a quick look at a chunk of data rendered visually. After trying to relate the lines back to the landscape and the journey we’d made I then transferred the data to Google Earth. Ah! That’s where that happened!

In these visualisations the length of the lines relate to the intensity of vibration felt at that location at that time. The longer the lines the more vibration is felt

…and the same data in Google Earth superimposed over imagery showing the architecture on campus

I’ve made an A4 poster of all of the data from that day (the workshop and a test walk I did earlier in the morning) for you to download and print.

You can also download this .kml file for viewing in Google Earth if you’d like to see the data superimposed over imagery of the landscape.

My (somewhat grey and dingy) photos from the workshop are in this Flickr set.

Many thanks to the conference organisers, the workshop participants and everyone else at Mobilities Futures for a very interesting few days.



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