What is it to navigate? What is it to know I am here now? The increasing accuracy of satellite navigation strives to eliminate the possibility of human error, but it also produces a sense of dislocation from one’s immediate environment by abstracting location as the coordinates of longitude and latitude. What place is there for one’s body, one’s senses, one’s conscious and unconscious awareness of space, if this knowledge is so apparently made redundant by GPS? What, if any, role can historical skills of navigation at sea, of observation, choice, intuition and improvisation play in navigating the spaces of the future?
Satellite navigation need not be reduced to the mundane but can potentially expand one’s consciousness of the environment by enabling a hybrid form of locative intuition enhanced by technology. Sun Run Sun explores the individual experience of current location technologies through a personal experience of sound. It seeks to (re)establish a sense of personal connectedness to one’s environment, and to (re)negotiate this through an investigation into old, new, future and animal navigation using sound.
Sun Run Sun investigates the split between the embodied experience of location and the calculated data of position. A series of portable personal ‘instruments’, currently under development, transform satellite data directly into a sonic composition. This composition constantly varies in response to the changing location of the player as they move through their physical environment. The player/navigator’s experience of their own locational shifts are augmented by corresponding shifts in the electronic soundscape, as it is calculated/performed in real-time and played via headphones.
The sound presents a sonification not only of calculated longitude and latitude, but also of the individual satellite’s details of signal strength and altitude. These aspects of position tracking emphasize the technological mediation of navigational processes, not simply the final location result. The inherent abstraction of electronic sound makes it a fitting vehicle for exploring this data. Although it is made out of the information it receives from the satellites, this sonification allows one to physically experience floating through extended locations, shifting between the actual space of embodied experience and the abstract space of locational representation. Sun Run Sun enables exploration of this space between spaces, of the relationship between embodied and disembodied knowledge, and of the possibility of hybrid forms of knowing and experiencing.
- Yolande Harris, USA yolandeharris.net