Week 7 Response: Global Positioning Systems and Sound Mapping

The increase in use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and geo-locators has led not only to the geological mapping of earth but the detection of anyone’s location at any place and time. Such a phenomena, which has also brought on a variety of possibilities and dangers, can convenienetly enable people and groups to access the location of almost anything and anyone even with or without permission. By allowing “new extensions of pan optical surveillance and control; authorities will be able to know exactly where things and people are” (Wilson 283), writes Wilson in Information Arts. Still artists see such an opportunity as a chance to use said systems with their practice.

Such a close and almost creepily intimate interaction has lead to the coexistence of global positioning systems with artistic exploitations. One of such exploitations is the project Sound Mapping by Iain Mott. In this installation, Mott seeks to combine global positioning systems with sound to essentially “map” the positions of its participants with sound based on their specific location.


As shown in the image above, the participants wheel around suitcases that play music based on where they are using the speakers attached to them. On his website, Mott describes, ” [it] aims to assert a sense of place, physicality, and engagement to reaffirm the relationship between art and the everyday activities of life.” It seems as though Mott is creating a new edge to the privacy problems people think about when it comes to global positioning systems. Yes, Mott is trying to reinstate this very close relationship and engagement with people and technology, a phenomena that many are so afraid of when it comes to privacy, but does so in a way that emphasizes an engagement of such mediums with the use of art as well.

The utilization of sound mapping in this project is also important in that it offers people insight into the possibilities of virtual architecture and the effects of physical position on future cyber dominated cultures. It displays the possibilities such technologies can have on future exploitations not only with sounds but with other possible senses as well. I think that this installation really emphasizes the point that we can utilize such a system to create a more visible interaction with global positioning and ourselves, instead of making it such a covert, enigmatic subject matter. But really noticing, or in this case hearing the positioning of oneself, on can really hear GPS in action, building a relationship between technologies and people.

–Dahlia Dominguez


Information Arts, Wilson



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