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Seeking Spaces in a Collaborative Map of Lisbon
GPS workshop, Lisbon, Portugal, 21-26/02/2011 by Jeremy Wood
[The Exhibition] [The Project] [2d Details with Aerial Overlays] [3d GPS Architecture]

GPS workshop in Lisbon with students from Universidade Nova and Universidade Lusófona
Five days with ten GPS receivers
Provided by the Berardo Collection Museum
in connection with the Mappamundi exhibition

Lisbon Photo Lisbon Photo
Lisbon Photo



Workshop Schedule:
Day 1- 21/02/2011 Introduction to exhibition and work at Berardo. Go outside to test receivers get familiarised with drawing with GPS.
Day 2- Start at 10:00 with sharing progress and details of collaborative map. Discuss ideas about what to do and where to go. Get mapping and return no later than 17:00 to upload data.
Day 3- Share progress and map details. Get mapping and return no later than 17:00 to upload data.
Day 4- Share progress and map details. Get mapping and return no later than 17:00 to upload data.
Day 5- Share map details and discuss the readings and implications of the work. Final session of mapping with return no later than 16:00 to upload data and summarise efforts.
Day 6- 26/02/2011 Public presentation of the full collaborative GPS map at the Berardo Collection Museum at 16:00.

The first day of the GPS workshop I was faced with a dozen students who were unaware of why they were there and what they had to do. We started with a detailed tour of the Mappamundi exhibition guided by its curator Guillaum Monsaigeon. It was a fabulous insight for the students to get such a thorough explanation about the choice of exhibits and what they offered to the thinking behind the collection. I then presented an outline of my work and how it all came about in relation to the pieces I had in the exhibition.
[Meridians & Traverse Me]

There’s no way of understanding unless you try
With ten GPS receivers distributed amongst the students we headed outside of the Berardo Collection Museum in Belém to try and get to grips with the capabilities of the technology. On the master map there is a dense cloud of GPS track over the site of the museum where we turned on the devices and acquired the first collective satellite signals. When the participants felt synchronised with the receivers they set off to explore their movements in the ornate square of Belém. The area is exquisite with fine details and many of the structures and architectural features are too fine to capture with GPS, but there was no harm in trying. From the first day of the workshop in the shadow of the symbolic monument to the Age of Discoveries in Belém the participants set forth on explorations of space and time with GPS.

GPS Workshop GPS Workshop

For the rest of the week we used Universidade Lusófona as a base to coordinate our efforts. Every morning from 10:00 we met to upload the GPS tracks from the night before and to review the overall progress of the collaborative map. We picked through the fresh details of some strange and elaborate journeys through the city. It helped the group to get to know one another by being able to read each other's unique movements over their own.

GPS Workshop Students Lisbon Map
The programme was supported by Prof. Bragança Miranda, José Gomes Pinto, and Guillaum Monsaigeon with students participating from Universidade Nova and Universidade Lusófona.

In an email correspondence before the workshop I was asked:
GM Q: "Do you think students need absolutely to have a geographical background, or do you agree with the idea of students in semiology or architecture?"
JW A: "Absolutely no geographical background is needed. GPS drawing is about personal interactions with space and place and is not restricted to a specific background or story. If you can move you can draw. You can even draw without moving (but I don’t encourage this in workshops as it becomes more about the ‘precision of inaccuracy’). The workshops are designed to fit in with the student interests; it’s about them and what they bring to it." 02/06/10

In response to the workshop a student wrote:
"As a Cinema student I think this workshop was useful for me because it was a good opportunity to learn more about a process that uses new technology devices in order to get a new interpretation of cartography.
About this week, sometimes it was a little bit tiring to be walking for a long time, but it was interesting to see the result of everybody's work every day.
My conclusion is that we can use technology not only to get preconceived information about the world but also to create our own interpretation and relation with it. Sometimes we think that technology is infallible, that its truth is absolute, but I also verify that devices get their mistakes as well and we should be aware about that.
" MS 26/02/11

GPS satellite signals are broadly dispersed over the surface earth by various orbiting satellites from over twenty thousand kilometres away.
When the signals splash down to earth they tend to collide and bounce amongst the surfaces of our surroundings like a ball in a 3d Pinball machine. Tall buildings, large objects, trees, and even our own body can interfere with the signals. If a precise moment in atomic time is influenced by its surroundings does it echo the human interaction and perception of space? What is the human scale and with what can we compare it to?

As I walked along a small road in Lisbon busy with trams, taxis and busses, I looked down towards the river at a cobbled road on which some old and worn warehouses were sitting comfortably. Framed between the buildings a full and exhausted container ship was being tugged upstream with a massive gracefulness. It slowly slid against the flow of the same river that launched the great explorers in the Age of Discovery.

I looked up to see a section of the April 25th Bridge towering above all the buildings at an impossible size; it was as if I were in a cartoon representation of a city that took plenty of liberties with scale. It straddles the area with big feet and emits a constant metallic roar from all the rail and motor traffic that rolls along its back across the river. Somewhere above the bridge is an approaching airliner arriving on its final course to the nearby city airport. It screams into view and shatters the space as the sound smashes my surroundings. All the modes of transport around me appeared to be swiping through the territory and colliding with the moment.

Lisbon Photo


[The Exhibition] [The Project] [2d Details with Aerial Overlays] [3d GPS Architecture] [ ^ ]