GPS Traces as Drawings

The possibility of recording movements in space is something that has attracted me since I was a kid. I loved to draw maps of my journeys and document the path that I followed when exploring a mountain or a park. Those drawings were useful not only to complement stories and illustrate anecdotes, but also to imagine new routes and even fantasies. A couple of years ago, I decided to buy a GPS personal navigator device that allows me to record my trajectories in space. I have been experimenting with the aesthetic and expressive quality of the drawings that one can create while moving. It has become a sort of performance I play in the cities that I visit as well the cities where I live. For instance, bellow is a drawing I performed in the summer of 2011 while I was living in Somerville, Massachusetts.

You might ask, what is it? I would say, it is a rabbit, the rabbit of Davis Square. It is in fact the ghost of my walking trajectory across Davis Square. A record of my movement. I used the GPS personal navigation device to consciously draw this shape using the city layout as a canvas. I didn’t know it was a rabbit before I started to walk, but it emerged as I moved in space as if I were doing a one-line contour.

Imagine GPS traces are drawings. Even if they are not created with this purpose in mind, the representation of the movements in space is expressive and posseses an aesthetic quality. This fact is something I have started to appreciate more after writing an article about the GPS drawings I make (and that I will share in this blog soon). In order to understand better the different aesthetic qualities of the traces I am now collecting public traces from OpenStreetMap  (the community where I actively participate editing the free map of the world and sharing my GPS traces).  Bellow are some of the abstract and suggestive drawings I have found.

 

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