GPS finds its way into art

By Steve Dawson , Originally published in  the  Straits Times
27 Jul 2001

The latest trend in communication technology has spawned a new art form.

An art group here called Tsunamii, made up of two contemporary visual artists and a software engineer, has created a work called Alpha 3.0: GPS Piece - A Web Walkabout.

The work tracks the urban movements of a performer as he wanders around Singapore holding a Global Positioning System (GPS) device that can be tracked by satellite.

The satellite passed the artist's movements yesterday to the Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts, where an audience of 200 gathered to watch the performance.

The urban meanderings are captured in three different forms and portrayed on three wall projections:

* The first screen plots the artist's exact location, as represented by a dot overlaid on a map. As the artist moves, the dot, using GPS technology, moves with it.

* The second screen shows a web browser. Its Net-surfing activities are triggered by the real-life environment encountered by the artist as he wanders around.

* The third screen reveals the source code, or programming text, that allows the first two screens to be synchronised.

'The performer's physical movements seek to create complex narratives that connect the aesthetic, architectural, historical and socio-cultural features of the environment,' said Mr Gunalan Nadarajan, who put the performance together.

The performance was supported by Nokia and The National Arts Council and cost $20,000 to produce. Recordings of yesterday's performance will be on show at the college from today between 11 am and 7 pm, and over the weekend from 10 am to 5 pm.