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Spatial Machines

Walking with GPS

13 August 2016

13 August 2016, Spatial Machines - walking with GPS @ People's History Museum

Time 12:00 - 16:00

Duration 4 hours

Cost In order to keep our events programme affordable to everyone, please make a donation.  Suggested donation £3

Walk starts and finishes in the Community Gallery at PHM

More and more we are coming to rely on technology to know where we are and what is around us.  Where’s the nearest restaurant or Uber driver?  Where have my friends been taking pictures?  Creating this kind of locative information relies on a massive infrastructure of satellites and ground based reference stations.  How do these infrastructures see the world?  What influence do their material and political contexts have on the way we orient ourselves?

This half day workshop will be led by Christopher Wood.  It explores GPS (Global Positioning System) infrastructure using walking exercises with bespoke technology.  You will walk around the city (distance around 1-2 miles) seeing how architecture and the built environment can disrupt GPS position and then reflect on the infrastructure’s potential for creating hybrid spaces combining terrestrial and extra-terrestrial lines of sight.

This event begins to imagine how infrastructures perceive and construct space.  The workshop will focus on GPS sensors and the satellites they communicate with.  How do they help us know where we are, and can we trust them?

Chris will lead a walk using diagnostic tools which can display information about the accuracy of a smartphone’s GPS sensor, how many satellites have been used to achieve a position and the movement patterns and registration information of a given satellite.  The intention is to explore how GPS infrastructure can see and not see environments (especially the built environment) at ground level.  It is also interesting to explore how these ground level elements are linked to an extra-terrestrial space.

Once we have used the walk to explore the site, workshop participants will re-imagine the space based on the way GPS may perceive it.  This primarily involves creative writing as a method to get inside a machine perception of the site.  What kinds of senses can we imagine these satellites and sensors having in the way they triangulate space?  At what points do they lose coverage?  How might that be felt by the GPS sensor?  When the workings of infrastructure are interrupted, what kind of hybrid spaces are we creating?

A collection of orbiting satellites is called a constellation.  How might we rename these constellations in the same way our ancestors named collections of stars?The LRM

Our idea of what a location is and means is often conveyed by a small blue circle on a smartphone screen.  This workshop aims to make the structures that support that blue circle visible and offer new ways of thinking about them.  It is ultimately motivated by an interest in how and by whom the technologies we use everyday are being motivated to re-imagine the spaces we live in and move through.

  • Please note participants need to bring an android phone or GPS enabled tablet.Arts Council England

Part of the Loitering With Intent events programme.

Suitable for adults and young people

  • Treat yourself to 15% off in The Left Bank cafe bar and 10% off in the museum shop when you attend an event at the People’s History Museum
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Booking Requirements:

  • Walk starts and finishes in the Community Gallery at PHM
  • Please note event attendees must arrive at least ten minutes before the start time of the event, otherwise their booked space will be given to someone on the reserve list
  • Please contact the museum as soon as possible if you wish to cancel your reservation so your place can be given to another visitor
  • Please note all donations are non refundable
  • For further information please contact the museum on 0161 838 9190 or email events@phm.org.uk