[ISEA2008] Paper: Dimitris Charitos, Harriet Mitrakou & Haris Rizopoulos – Investigating New Models of Communication as a Spatial Practice through the Implementation of a Locative Media System


Introduction                                                                                                                                               The integration of wireless media, tracking and mapping technologies and the impact of their use on mediated communication within urban public space is one of the primary concerns of theoretical research on the subject of Locative Media. Locative media are systems of technologically mediated interpersonal and group communication. By introducing context awareness and by supporting multi-user communication, these ICT systems alter the situation within which mediated communication takes place, thus bringing to light new spatial contexts and affording new types of experiences where social interaction may occur and novel forms of cultural practices may emerge.

The potential for supporting real social interactions among mobile individuals along with the unique “hybrid” spatial character of the experience afforded by the use of these ICT systems challenge the traditional ways in which we perceive and interact with the “physical” inhabited world. Mobile, wearable, devices could nowadays be networked, internet enabled and location aware. As a result, mobile users holding these devices could be easily positioned and their surrounding, concrete environmental elements in the physical world can be tagged as well as mapped onto appropriately designed environmental representations. By affording location detection of each user, multi-user locative media systems may allow groups of such users to interact with each other, while being aware of each other’s location at all times, thus triggering social experiences and a range of “latent” geospatial activities, in an existential, inhabited, “lived” physical space.

Locative media and the hybridisation of urban space                                                                          To city dwellers, the urban context is not merely a geographical term. Depending on a dweller’s preferences, experience, and daily routines, parts of urban space will be perceived as socially significant, as people attach meaning to them and appropriate them. Attribution of meaning, appropriation, and regular occupation of spaces may lead to their transformation to places. The concepts of space and place are not identical. Space refers to the spatial arrangement of elements which establishes an environment, whereas place has more social connotations and is not exclusively confined to the material world. Regular occupation and appropriation of a space are essential for the transformation of spaces to places. In addition to the social significance attributed to spaces in this fashion, locative media superimpose a layer of digital information over the urban landscape. Thus, physical space is enhanced, and at the same time the layer of digital information is mapped onto it. The result is an effective combination of the digital layer’s fluidity and the durability and permanence of real space.

  • Dimitris Charitos,Harriet Mitrakou  &Haris Rizopoulos (Greece) New Technologies Laboratory, Faculty of Communication and Media Studies National & Kapodistrian University of Athens

Full text (PDF) p.  102-103