Locative Ambient Sensor Triptych

Early in the semester, I conducted a GPS trace over Columbus Day Weekend—a line drawing representing the paths I took over those three days. Last week, I presented on how the data of cities constitutes a new kind of urban sensory field. These seemingly outward-facing investigations pertain to the self and the collective as described by Marshall Mcluhan in Understanding Media: “Housing as shelter is an extension of our bodily 
heat-control mechanisms—a collective skin or garment. Cities are an even further extension of bodily organs to accommodate the needs of large groups.”

Gathering a triptych of location-specific data around New York City is central to how I’ll approach my final project for Rest of You. I’m curious about the kind of data that changes from neighborhood to neighborhood, information not easily quantified and significant to the experience of that place. I plan to detect sound levels with an electret microphone, air quality with an MQ-135 gas sensor, and light intensity with a photocell.

In addition to collecting and publishing place-specific sensor readings, I’m interested in utilizing these variables for a kind of visualization. To that end, I plan to record short, fixed-position video clips at locations where data is collected with my sensor triptych. The parameters of sound, air quality, and light will then be applied to the manipulation of each clip. The degree to which an image process occurs will be in relation to others—the location with the best air quality will have no blur while the location with the worst will have maximum blur—establishing a relative baseline.

Arranged in a grid of simultaneous display, these multiple scenes will provide a new way of seeing the environments they represent.