[-empyre-] locative city, annotated space

Jeremy, et al.

I'm interested in your thoughts on the slippage involved in the mediated experience of place, with the danger of the participant being so wrapped up in the interface that she loses sight (literally, figuratively) of the actual landscape surrounding her, something Andrea Moed briefly mentions in her "Annotate Space" essay: "[T]hey [location-based software] tend to narrow the experience of place. Some cultural critics believe that location-based software can make people more indifferent to their environments--at home or away. To the extent that a handheld device provides a consistent interface to all places, it eliminates the need to relate to a particular place on its own terms. For example, where you previously would have asked a local to direct you to the nearest post office in a strange neighborhood, you can now punch the query into a street mapping program on your PDA . . ." (Moed, 5).

In the photographs on the 34n118w site, for example, in all but one of the photographs the participants are gazing intently down at the screen or off into middle space listening to the narrative. http://34n118w.net/htmldir/Descriptn.html

As a poet and sound/visual artist involved in mapping place, I'm all for annotated, locative place experiences, and I think it is a rich and inspired (and inspiring) means of renegotiating the landscape, but I'm wondering how far the PDA/tablet goes in replacing authentic experience with mediated experience (rather than augmenting), or does this technology function as merely a tool similar to a street map or tourist guide? (And what is "authentic" place experience?)

Obviously, when the technology advances and the hardware shrinks, the annotated interface will become more ubiquitous, so perhaps this is just a matter of familiarizing ourselves with a new way of walking through a space that will someday be ordinary?


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