Percussion for Hill and GPS

Here is a [completely non-representative] taster of what was coming out of the cardboard boxes:

Percussion for Hill and GPS from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

The drumming and breathing was commissioned from Adam Kinner (the saxophonist from this post). He’s recently started a blog and I definitely think it’s one to watch for the future. Go have a look-see.

17 ways…

A (silent) video accompaniment to the previous post:

17 Ways… from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

Manifesto for mediascapes

During the Almost Perfect residency, I had the chance to try out a few different types of thingies running off the mscape platform, but towards my 4th week in Banff I was starting to question the typical delivery format of iPaq and headphones. I couldn’t see how wandering around on your own, gingerly holding a foreign touch-screen device whilst plugged into headphones and being isolated from your surroundings related to my practice.

Nothing against those other mscapes I experienced, it just wasn’t a canon I wanted to contribute to.

Here’s what we were using to run the mscape player off:


A sight that might make some techies salivate, but kind of intimidating at the same time. These would generally be used in conjunction with some fairly substantial headphones. As a result you could very easily be worrying about if you’d pressed some of the wrong buttons, accidentally nudged the touch screen or whether you were easy prey for some street crime …rather than concentrating on whatever sounds were being delivered to via the headphones.

Things started to get interesting when people paraded down the street en masse but, for the most part, the experience stayed with the person wearing the headphones.

Cue my manifesto for mediascapes:


Be visible (i.e. make it obvious that something is happening, rather than skulking around wearing headphones and looking at a small screen); and be audible (inflict your happening onto innocent passers-by).

These starting points later opened out into further thinkings about how to make mediascape experiences shared experiences and how to make mediascape experiences playful experiences.

How these thoughts manifested themselves was through a quick prototype alternative housing for the iPaq.

First I hacked (in the non-tech sense) apart and rewired some mp3 player speakers and then I mounted them inside a cardboard tube.



I then had something big with a strong physical that you were very aware of carrying; something a bit shonky and made from very familiar, very non-intimidating materials; something that was loud; and something just a little bit ridiculous. A tool, a plaything, a conversation starter.

Actually, I had two.

With a diameter of influence of about 20 metres each.

With two of these ‘talking sticks’ I had a way of encouraging interaction between people using the mediascape. We also started up a few conversations with people who had no idea what was going on …but wanted to find out!


Like when Emergent Game‘s egorbeaver made friends with the ticket inspector or when Paul and some other Digbeth Invigilators found themselves in the position of having to make sure an inebriated stranger got back to her hotel safely I find these instances of when a thing bleeds out of its original context and reaches another layer of participant very interesting.

It was also fascinating to see how changing the interface for the mediascape changed the way people conducted themselves. Admittedly I don’t have a huge amount of experience with mediascapes, and wandering around the corners of campus listening to piano strings being broken is probably going to foster a fairly light-hearted reaction, but there’s something different going on here, right?




careful now










[Update: And there’s some video footage here too.]

In C for Open Road

open road

I always knew I wouldn’t be able to realise my full-blown ideas for a locative media version of In C whilst I was in Banff this November: there just wasn’t time to organise the tech, the musicians, the recording and the power issues.

Still, not one to be put off by technicalities, I set off for a walk and a low-tech version. In C for musicians, speakers, GPS and open road.

map and chalk

Armed with a map and some chalk I walked along a road that had been closed to vehicles for the Winter. Taking each of the motifs in turn, I walked until what felt like the appropriate moment to pause and draw the music onto the road’s surface.

really open road

I’m not sure how long I walked for or how far I travelled, only that I got up to the 17th motif before my chalk ran out. This, I decided, was the end point for the piece.

Only not quite.

My minor obsession with In C is tied up in with chance meetings, interactions and collaborations with various people outside the group directly involved with the residency I was on and, as such, somehow really underlines the true value of residencies such as these. I still had 4 more sticks of chalk (kindly donated by Laura, thankyou!) and decided that rather than continuing in a different colour, I should open things up to further collaboration from other people.


A kit containing instructions, the remaining chalk, the score for In C and a map was passed on to Dohi Moon – one of the In C musicians from the concert – for interpretation and, perhaps, adding another layer of chalk to the road.


I’m not sure what happens next, I just wanted to give it back.

update: Dohi Moon has posted a photo of her interpretation.

the trouble with…

The trouble with… from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

In C for musicians, speakers, GPS and open road

Visual references for this and this.

Tunnel Mountain Drive - closed to traffic in Winter

Tunnel Mountain Drive - closed to traffic in Winter



Graffiti Research Lab, Banff

A few days ago, Agent Scott and assistants braved the sub-zero temperatures to re-appropriate the construction site opposite the building we’re based in for a spot of Laser Tagging courtesy of the Graffiti Research Lab. [video documentation here: soundtrack not safe for work.]

Graffiti Research Lab

Graffiti Research Lab kit

Graffiti Researchers

Call for contexts

Artist seeks context (real or imaginary) suitable for the application of digital hobo signs.

We’ve a partially-developed prototype for a GPS-based system for ‘tagging’ physical space with digital media (photo, text, audio, video…) with a mobile phone.

We’re trying to think of contexts to test this system against, so that we can refine the user interface and fill in the details.

blank canvas

The process goes something like this:

  • 1st person goes to the location they want to comment on
  • 1st person records their media at the location
  • 1st person sends media to the server
  • Phone also sends GPS co-ordinates
  • 2nd person, at home, sees location (but not media) marked on map
  • 2nd person goes to location
  • 2nd person views media on their phone
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th persons plus friends work towards common goal.

Any suggestions?


Yesterday was spent making a start on defining the territory for a mscape project I’m working on.

A few hours walking around the campus looking for hazards, natural boundaries and tempting trails to follow away from the main path. Eyes mostly on the landscape, but also having to pay attention to the varying behaviour of the GPS signal in different locations.

Click on the image below for a larger version:

a walk to define the edges

using Google Earth to locate a map for use in mscape

A run through of how I did it today; so I can remember it for another time….

Grab a map

In this case a campus map in the form of a .pdf

This will then need converting into a file format that Google Earth can accept (.jpg, .tiff, .png, .gif etc). Whilst I was in Photoshop I also rotated the image so that North was orientated towards the top:

campus map

Locate it

Open up Google Earth (available for free from here: and navigate to the area your map corresponds to.

view of campus in Google Earth

Double-check your settings for latitude and longitude values are set to decimal degrees. (Tools > options…. )

decimal degrees

Overlay your image. (Add > Image Overlay) You’ll also need to reduce the opacity so you can make out landmarks from the photo below the image.

image overlay

You can then position your map in the correct place. (More information about image overlays and resizing/moving/rotating are available on this Google help page.)

Once you have positioned your map you need to get the longitude and latitude values for at least three of the map’s corners (this is why it helps not to be using a map with a transparent background!).

Set a placemark at the map corners. You may find this easier if you first change the marker to a cross-hair rather than a pin.

marking the map corners

Right click (or equivalent on your operating system) on either the pin on the map or the pin name in the places side-panel to get to the properties window.

latitude and longitude

You can either repeat this for each of your corner pins and write down the latitude and longitude values given, or you can leave this window open and copy and paste the values over in just a minute…

Import into mscape

Open up your mscape file (or start a new one if you need to) and then click on the import map button at the top.
Create New Map > next > Type them in by hand > next > browse to your file > next > select lat/long and make sure you have WGS_84 as the datum type.

enter coordinates

In the following window you can then enter the values you got from Google Earth.

Save you map as a .maplib file and then import it to your project.

Testing it out

Next, if you follow these instructions for how to set your mscape to log your GPS trace, you can then check your map positioning (and the GPS accuracy) to check things are as they should be.

GPS trace

…then you’ve just got to make the rest of your mscape…

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