[ISEA2008] Paper: Chris Bowman & Teresa Leung – Visualising the Locative Experience


With the accessibility of GPS (Geographical Positioning System) enabled technology, creative practitioners and technologists are rapidly increasing their use of GPS devices to capture locational data as representations of time and space. The methods of visually transforming locational data are diverse and represent a rapidly emerging field of visual practice that enriches our understanding of human interaction with a given location.

Visualisation of locational data consists of two main types of visual content — firstly, the GPS data and secondly, contextual data collected along the journey (photographs, personal notes, sound, etc). The former is a literal transcript — a static, one-dimensional representation rendered into a simple graphic form such as XY and Z coordinates and/or a point-to-point mapping which traces the journey. The latter, being interpretive content, is representative of the location and the traveller and by extension, the social/cultural aspects of the community or environment. Our survey of on-line GPS visualisations revealed that a majority of practitioners were exploring visualisation of GPS data alone with few augmenting this with contextual data.

To gain greater understanding of the field the authors considered the visualisation of GPS data as explored from an information design perspective1 and focused on how space and time could be given dimension and meaning through its visual representation. From this approach, a contextual classification system was developed that identified the use of line, colour and symbol as the common codification techniques used by creative practitioners working with locational data. This classification helps us to assess the convergence of the codification as visualisation systems and in doing so, to develop an application tool which may used by practitioners to visualise GPS and contextual data in a manner that achieves an immersive embodied experience.

  • Chris Bowman (Australia) Creativity and Cognition Studios, Centre for Digital Design, Faculty of Design Architecture and Building, University of Technology, Sydney
  • Teresa Leung (Australia) Centre for Digital Design, Faculty of Design Architecture and Building, University of Technology, Sydney

Full text (PDF)  p. 70-72