Week 7 Response / Earth as a Canvas

One of the most practical benefits of space exploration has been the Gloabal Positioning System. This allows people on the earth to locate themselves anywhere to within one meter precision.
– Stephen Wilson

In Wilson’s book, I came across Andrea Di Castro, an artist that explores with travel, pilgrimage, and memory. He used the precision capabilities of GPS to create geographical pieces. Utilizing movement as a medium and nature as a canvas, he used GPS technologies to create virtual drawings. To draw, he would have to travel though roads, lakes, oceans, air, and etc. Roads and lakes include constraints as to where the artist can go because blocks and river flows are already defined but flying and being in the water provides more freedom. This is interesting to think about because even though you’re free to move anywhere on a plane or a boat, there is still things like wind and current to account for that can influence the strokes. It is also difficult to move in such a big scale and to control where you want to move, whereas for roads you can map out what you want to draw before going at it. Here is an example of Castro’s creation:


This is a piece called Fixing the Heart by Castro. As an action of goodwill for the new millennium in Ireland, Andrea di Castro was asked to do a monumental virtual drawing in the shape of a heart, big enough to contain the complete island. He used a handheld GPS to collect data of his location, and using those data points to create lines. Since this was created about 14 years ago, his process seemed extremely strenuous. The blue line on this picture is the path he actually took either by flying, driving, or walking, while the red is the corrected heart. With our current technology, this piece probably could have been done in one trip of flying, but Castro took about 4 days’ worth of travel to complete what he has done.

Castro’s work reminds me of a trend that started amongst runners in San Francisco. They use the Nike+ Running App to create images of mostly penises in their drawing. The apps tracks the route that you take from your start to your end point. Here are a couple of their drawings:

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One runner tweets, “it’s not easy. first, you have to spend a lot of time looking for dicks on maps… countless hours of dick searching…”

Castro’s use of GPS enabled us to see our movement on a greater scale, how small one human step is, how big earth is, and taking “large canvases” to a new level. I think it is a pretty cool way to use our current technology.

– Kelly Kwok


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