Judging FLEFF

Ismail, Christina McPhee and I are jurors for the Map Open Space competition for FLEFF 2010 which focuses on artworks deploying digital technologies and new media to mobilize, manipulate, and map open space, where ‘open space’ is, basically, any unchartered territory you can think of.

A total of 36 submissions where contributed. Here are a few of the more interesting ones.

+ Mapplers by Tara Pattenden, which aims to map a city using hand drawn maps by contributors. Conceptually very interesting, but there’s currently no actual implementation besides one single hand drawn map using the Google Maps viewport.

+ Farm Animal Drawing Generator by Gebhard Sengmueller, where farm animals were fitted with GPS loggers and, at the end of a few days, their wanderings copied onto a map. Though it’s both funny and innovative, it’s a pity that Sengmueller didn’t create more of an interactive environment to track the animals’ wonderings, but only displays the results through a video.

+ To Hold a Future Body So Close to One’s Own by Evan Meaney is a web gallery of twenty-seven portraits mapping [buzzword alert!] the deconstructive linguistics of encoding algorithms. By shooting video portraits and multiple re-encodings, the resulting moving images, which are extremely noisy, create a spooky atmosphere and point to the mortality of digital culture. I would have liked this to be less conventional in its presentation, because essentially it’s video art.

+ 360extended by Faisal Anwar is a platform for exploring the relationship citizens have with the place they call ‘home’, by allowing for users to post stories and photos, reminiscing on what shapes their imagery of their environment.
It’s a reasonably well executed project, but technically lacks innovation as it’s essentially just a group blog.

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+ The Good Life by Carlos Motta explores the South American public opinion on the US’s interventions in the region over the last few decades. This is done through interviewing an extensive array of individuals.
The resulting work, which nicely presents the videos is interesting for its, on a international level, sensitive subject matter, though as a whole the project is more like old school reporting than new media.

+ ContemporaryNaturalism by Mauro Ceolin maps real world, loosely related sightings onto a Google Map, creating a faux Latin based taxonomy from these sightings. There’s a basis for something interesting here, though I don’t think Ceolin has yet fully tapped into this.

+ Political/Hydrological: A Watershed Remapping of the Contiguous United States by Lauren Rosenthal is a river-centered atlas of the United States based on freshwater systems, using watersheds to mark boundaries, effectively moving rivers from the margin to the center of maps. Rosenthal: “This shift alters our presumed notions of boundary and asks us to identify with and privilege water as the primary consideration for determining political identity. […] By offering this alternate organizational model, I […] propose a new, more ecologically integrated vision of the world in which we live.”
Interesting as a concept, well designed and well presented.

+ rightbasicbuilding.com is a blog of world map projections organized and constructed by the method of Constant-Scale Natural Boundary, where the edge of the map has meaning, typically the watersheds of the land area that forms the boundary. Very interesting, though only nominally an online work.

+ 17,844 Las Vegas Pools by Lizzie Hughes maps the pools within the Las Vegas city limits, creating a pointillist image of sorts.

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+ New Public Sites by Graham Coreil-Allen is a meatspace walking tour of Washington DC mapped on Google Maps.

+ Camp La Jolla Military Park is a Google Maps mashup by Owen Mundy which involves a data collection which investigates relationships of power within the Military Academic Industrial Complex in Southern California. To make the information accessible, Mundy borrowed the vernacular language and imagery of the National Park System, and announced that a national park had been founded to appreciate the ongoing military history of the area, creating the mashup as a way to present the faux military park to the world.

+ Blood Sugar by is billed as “new media documentary”, an interesting mixup of interviews of 24 current and former injection drug users recorded at the HIV Education and Prevention Program of Alameda County and in California state prisons. I like the format used for presenting the project, though the audio files are a total bandwidth hog. As a result, the interdependencies between the different narratives is too easily lost.