Workshop and lecture in Naïrobi, Kenya

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Workshop Geotales CCAEA Nairobi

Two day workshop, on Tuesday May 3rd and Friday May 13th.

Subject
Drawing with satellites – using GPS (Global Positioning System) as a tool for telling stories.

Workshop description
People moving can be seen as lines being drawn on paper. The lines tell a story. For example stories that fall in the category of social practice. Those stories define Naïrobi by professional, institutional and occupational routines. Following people, or carrying out processes that adhere to centres of employment or practice, these works offer an insight into the city as a container for production, consumption, education or service. But the lines can also depict a portrait, of someone or something, not literally but figuratively.

In this workshop we will record these movements with GPS and translate these into digital drawings.
Firstly you will define the idea (which routes tell which stories), then you will develop a plan (which route are you going to walk/ride/drive) that you then will execute. There after you/we will translate it into a digital ‘drawing’ and a small presentation.

Background
The workshop is led by the Dutch artists Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum.
Esther and Ivar are interested in the depiction of landscape and mobility. In this context they explore the visual and documentary possibilities of GPS but they also use low-tech tools to make mappings of unexpected aspects of the city and rural landscapes.

From this experience Esther and Ivar are interested how mobility plays a role in Nairobi, and how this can be artistically explored. In the workshop they will inspire you to use your experience with the city as a starting point for a small-scale project that makes use of GPS technology to reveal new and inspiring aspects of the city: its patterns, its flows, is distances, its differences.

Esther and Ivar will bring GPS equipment that can be used during the workshop (but other GPS devices will do as well). With the equipment you can go out in the streets and the device will record your movements. This will be visualized directly after you return to the CCAEA space. Participants will work in small groups (2-4 person) to develop and articulate their own plan. After the two workshop days the results will be presented to the public in Go down arts centre.

They have a long experience with working with GPS: They are known for projects like AmsterdamREALTIME project (2002), one of the first large-scale art explorations in GPS mapping. Ten inhabitants of Amsterdam carried per week a GPS tracer with them. Their routes through town were made visible on a projection screen in the exhibition space. The traces on screen form an alternative, highly personal map of the city.
A next example is MILKproject. In this project a European dairy transportation was followed
from the udder of the (Latvian) cow, to the mouth of the (Dutch) consumer. All people who played a role in this chain received, for a day, a GPS-device that registered their movements. The team developed a lucid visualization-software for these traces, and let the participants react upon them in their own kitchens or living rooms. MILKproject tells the personal life-stories of these very different Europeans, from the Latvian farmer to the Dutch open-air market salesman.
At CCAEA, besides of the workshop they will show NomadicMILK. For this project the tracks of both nomadic herdsman and regular dairy transports in Nigeria will be recorded and visualized. The project will make use of a newly developed GPS-visualization tool: a small robot will draw the tracks directly on the ground.

Short explanation of GPS:
GPS is a satellite navigation system. GPS-devices can localize their position on the earth by using signals received from satellites. The devices need signals from at least three separate satellites to locate their position. The precision of the localization is defined by the amount of satellite signals.

Schedule/Timetable
Tuesday May 3
8:30 All Meet at CCAEA
9:00 introduction of all
9.30 Lecture by Esther and Ivar
Plus, introduction to the technology and the brief, devices distributed and groups allocated.
11.00 Concept development in small groups.
12:00 First outdoors GPE registrations
14-00 – 15.30 Grpoups return one by one: download and visualization sessions.
16:00 presentation and discussion of first results
17:00 end.

May 4-12
Participants continue working on their projects if desired
Esther and Ivar travel to Mombassa for a research after fisherboat mobility patterns.

May 13
Second workshop day.
8:30 start
9:00 Additional GPS drawings in town.
14:00 Preparation of presentations.
14:00 publication of workshop results on Geotales BLog and international mailing.
(Program will be adjusted based on the needs of participants)

May 14
(exact time will follow) Public presentation of workshop results, robot performance and screening of Nomadic MILK at Go Down.

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