Tag Archives: gps

Geocaching Manchester

I laid my first ever geocache yesterday in Platt Fields park, Manchester. Hurray!

Geocaching is a kind of game, where “cachers” hide small containers which contain a logbook and a prize of some description. Anyone can go and hunt the cache – and take the prize – by logging onto the geocaching website (http://geocaching.com/) and obtaining the latitude and longitude of any given cache. Using a GPS device you can then (easily) find the cache. You must always replace anything you take from the cache with something else.

I discovered the concept last summer, but haven’t done a great deal of it. I have found 3 or 4 other caches around Manchester.

The one I laid is in Platt Fields Park and contains a disposable camera. The idea is that everyone who finds it take a photograph of themselves. I will then develop the pictures and them here, and also on the cache’s page on the geocaching website.

Geocaching; Personal Procrastination

I’m becoming increasing frustrated with my inability to record my music in a efficient manner. Procrastination is a big problem as is occasional lethargy. Also I find it difficult to defer my desires to mess about with my various other projects that are on-going.

Today’s procrastinative displacement activity is giving some much needed attention to this blog.

Photobombing has attracted some comments from various people on the internet and is still smouldering away by itself, which is really encouraging. I really want to get it properly sorted, so its a more cohesive system and accessible to anyone (which unfortunately it is not at the moment). I think that is going to involve quite a lot of re-learning how to program – but should be fun in its own right.

I was particularly pleased yesterday when I stumbled across Imran Ali’s blog and his post about photobombing. Its so good to see/hear/know that people other than myself are attracted to the concept. Imran summated photobombing with this, it isn’t quite correct (I don’t think) but this is probably how photobombing should operate:

I guess it’s basically the inverse of geotagging, rather than tagging a digital map with digital photos, you tag a physical place with real photos :)

A (cool) twist of fate is that he discovered the concept of photobombing via geotagging which is something I’ve been extremely interested with lately.

Speaking of geotagging, I’ve finally got my mobile phone/bluetooth GPS and camera combination to work smoothly, so in future I can ensure all my photographs will be geotagging automatically. But I’ve also discovered the phenomenon of geocaching. What am amazing thing this is. A network of “cachers” maintain thousands of caches throughout the globe. A cache can be any sort of container, and will contain a log book and official geocaching.com paperwork. Sometimes there are gifts inside, or puzzles, riddles, clues to find another geocache – anything! Anyhow, all the cache’s and their GPS co-ordinates are available on the website and anyone who so wishes can go in search of them. Its great fun, I recommend it to all.

I am certainly going to combine my photobombing escapades with geocaching.

Sometimes I wish time went twice as slow, or me twice as fast.

GPS Success

I’ve purchased a bluetooth GPS device for my mobile phone. The purpose, to geo-tag my digital photographs, so that all of them can appear on any compatible mapping software. This applies to Google Earth (and maps), Flickr.com and other sites like smugsmug.com.

I already have a page for my photobombing project to include geo-tagged photographs – using the website loc.alize.us.

Anyway, I’ve had some success, its taken a few days but I’ve finally managed to create a Google Earth file containing correctly geo-tagged photographs from a trip I took yesterday. Fantastic! See here…..

GPS with Photos

If you’re interested in doing this yourself, I suggest reading this page; http://hikesandbikes.blogspot.com/2006/10/life-of-geolocated-blog-post.html – its a very thorough walk through of how to set all this up.

Also, many thanks to Ed, of blogEd.co.uk and Tommi Laukkanen. Ed wrote a blog entry about Carling beer taps, which I landed on very randomly. Then I read his article about GPS tagging photos, using a Java enabled phone and Tommi Laukkanen’s “Trail Explorer” application – a very useful program that logs your geo location as you go and exports to a .GPX file.

Also this is fun opportunity to send another trackback :o)

Thoughts from a year ago

About this time last year I was feverishly trying to put together a portfolio (from nothing, diddly-squat) to get me through my interview for Interactive Arts. The ideas that I eventually presented to Tony, all stemmed from the writing on these envelopes. I’d forgotten most of them, I should really pursue them.

One of my favourites, comes from the concept of attaching a bucket of paint to all the taxi’s in the city. Each with a hole in the bottom, slowing leaking paint, and eventually tracking where all the taxi’s go. Hopefully creating something aesthetically pleasing to look at.

Not possible I know, but maybe using GPS, similarly to how Adele Prince worked in Nottingham.


Its also really nice looking at these and seeing how my thinking has developed vastly in the last year. Although, importantly, I’m very aware that my referencing to other artists, and indeed knowledge of other artists could do with improvement. I hope during the networking activities that I’m going to undertake next year will help improve this.

Adele Prince & Mars Bars

Adele Prince (an Interactive Arts graduate) came to talk to my group this week. She has been very successful with exhibitions, commissions and winning an innovation prize from the Yahoo! website. Through her various projects she has also attracted a lot of media coverage. Her success alone was enough to keep me attentive, but as it turned out I really enjoyed the presentation and her work definately aroused my interest. Most of Adele’s projects seemed to utilise the web, with more recent work reflecting the changes in the how the internet is used and having a distinctly Web 2.0 feel about them. One of her latest works, involved being tracked via GPS, which updated her position on a map on a website, and being given instruction via mobile phone – very technology heavy! This web-centricity was particularly interesting to me; as many of my ideas and things I’d like to do involve the same kind of things.

One commission that Adele showed us, was for a train station in Linconshire. How she created her work (which was a video installation) was to travel the length of the trainline and alongside it. But she did this by foot, taking photographs at 5 minute intervals throughout (the whole journey took several days). With the journey complete the photographs were Adele’s source material, along with video footage recorded by her boyfriend who was following her on a bicycle. The end result is displayed on two video monitors housed within the station ticket office. I really liked this concept, its the kind of self-involving art that I really like. I guess there is something of a likeness to post modernism with exposed self-referencing, that really gets my juices flowing. With this piece I like it that there is no certainty about what the images would be, but together they can be directly relevant to the subject.

Another piece of work she talked about (my favourite I think) was her “Lost Something?” website. This was born from Adele collecting lost items from the street, and cataloging the item, where it was found, and when. Eventually all these items were compiled and uploaded onto a website. People can log on to the website, check the list and see if their lost item is there. Launched in the late 90s Adele still recieves many emails per week with regard to the lost items on the website.

Adele seems to have been prolific since leaving University, with further projects including Lost Something and another web-based affair; Trolley Spotting. Trolley Spotting is an online database (with maps & images) chronicling Adele’s journeys around various cities to find trolleys. It is true that trolleys turn up in many odd places!

I’m enticed by the all Adele’s work, and it is very reminicent of a number of my own concepts – I couldn’t help but feel there was something missing for most of the projects. Like a “missing link”. Of course this is just my preference, and I was exceedingly excited to see someone doing things so similar to some of my aspirations. Also her success speaks for itself.

The presentation did make me think back to discovering the Bookcrossing.com website. On the site, you register your details and you’re then given a serial number. You print the number in a book, which you then leave anywhere you like! The idea is that someone else finds the book, which as well as the serial number has details of how to get the website. They then register the fact that they’ve found the book, where, when, how etc then once they’re finished with the book they are supposed to leave it somewhere else. Thus you get a large network of people sharing books with people using the Internet as a medium for tracking it.

There is another website called WheresGeorge.com and another called PhotoTag.org – one tracks US currency and the other disposable cameras (and then shows the pictures taken with each camera). The ideaology seems very similar to that of a lot of mail artists, but in this case making the most out of the internet.

When I discovered these websites (about 3 years ago now) the concept of each struck a chord with me; and I started trying to wrack my brains to figure out something similar that I could set up myself. The lost something idea was one that came to mind (I was unaware Adele had done it!), but I decided it would only really work as a self-contained thing if the lost objects were posted on the website by its users, rather than just me, and that this would constitute a massive programming task!

The thing that really turned me on about BookCrossing (which, incidentally, is now a word in the Oxford English dictionary!) was the fact that the people interacting with the site were giving each other a gift. Even if it is to a complete stranger! I like this idea of not being able to control something, but engineering conditions so the “art” actually evolves by itself (plus its always nice to get something for free, from another person). The concept is quite similar to Dave Gorman’s book Googlewhack Adventure, which is an amazing book. I think it qualifies to be called a work of art.

Mars Bars! I think the reason I chose Mars bars was that it rhymes, and I liked the phrase “Mars bars go far..”

My plan is to create a replica of the BookCrossing system, but modified so that Mars bars are the subject, rather than books. I will start with, say, 100 Mars which I will release through a variety of methods – each of them tagged with their own serial number and instructions. Whoever finds or recieves one of the bars, is instructed to log on to the website and record the fact they’ve recieved (and eaten!) the chocolate they are then requested to purchase a replacement chocolate add a serial number (provided by the website) and release that bar.

I would love to create this chocolate giving network, see how far it can spread, track its progress, ultimately see where it takes me and see where it takes the Mars bars.

Later on, I had two thoughts; firstly I was worried about the legality of using the Mars company’s trademarks but then that led me to thinking how valuable it maybe for the company. I wonder if I could create such a thing and sell it to Mars as a viral marketing technique or simply tell Mars about the project and see if they would give me a nominal sponsor to get it off the ground.

So I’m extremely grateful to Adele for rekindling my interest in this kind of project and very pleased to have been made aware of her work, which I’m going to be watching with a keen eye. Maybe at some point we could join forces! Its funny how things work together, I started doing my first computer programming in ages with Max/MSP last week, and now I’m thinking about doing a whole load more.