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Exploring possibilities for a media-rich City Map and Legend

Page history last edited by e.zafran@... 15 years, 9 months ago


Exploring possibilities for a media-rich City Map and Legend

This is the first prototype of a project (one of a number in the ‘Mediatising Place’ project in the ‘Spaces of Media’ research programme) that is focused on the city map and legend. This project and, indeed this prototype, is addressed to exploring the possibilities of extending the experiences and performances of and with public maps and city legends through making ‘media’ related to locations within the map/legend accessible and evident to a user/viewer.   


The traditional city legend is usually located at a vantage point where there is a ‘vista’ in which key features of the city are visible. Through map or city outline/silhouette, arrows and identification labels, the legend allows a viewer to appreciate key features of the view in front of them.

In this project we have made experiments to see how we may enhance the legend by drawing different media transmissions into the legend/map and thus into the view.


We are looking at the way these typologies – map and legend (in public spaces)  - may be enhanced through ‘mediatisation’. We are drawing into the legend/map different ‘content’ published by institutions and individuals related to, and connected in the legend/map to locations.


We are exploring the relationship and connection between the different kinds of ‘media-content’ that can be drawn into the legend/map. Bringing together media content from different sources and making them visible at the same time allows for different perspectives (sic) and readings of a place to be seen at once. For example one may see the London Eye as it is used within a fictional narrative (‘Fab Four’) and simultaneously seeing amateur photos of it, as well as a newscast of its opening.


We are in these juxtapositions exploring the different ways one can approach and inflect readings of place through the ‘mediation of media’.

We are also exploring different ways one (users) can direct readings of the city. So for instance one may read diachronously (read a place historically (through time)) or synchronously (explore a multiplicity of spaces as they appear in the same period of time).


We are also interested in exploring user generated content, uploaded at the site of the legend/map and opening new ‘affordances’ where users to take up different programmes (which we haven’t prescribed) to make, for instance, souvenir films, tell stories, gripe, comment and so forth.



The prototype – a description


The map/legend interface took form as a 3D printed map of London with a fibre-optic mesh integrated into its surface.  The fibre-optics allowed light to be transmitted to and recorded by a camera installed below the map.


By pointing a bright LED (light)  at a location in the map a user  selects the place they wish to see more of and they also use the LED to select a channel of interest (culture, music, news etc.) related to the place selected.

The camera, below the map, records the incidence of light at selected locations and the channel of interest and relays the information so that select  clips from the repository/database , and also live information broadcasted from different URLs. may be uploaded and projected onto the map.


In this first prototype we chose an area of London with Waterloo Bridge at its heart. We made certain assumptions about the different information one might be interested whilst in this area e.g. culture, politics, consumerism, health, sport etc. We then focused our attention on the different landmarks in this area including The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Bridge, County Hall, London Eye, Royal Festival Hall or BFI IMAX and sought to search repositories, broadcasts and other sources of information and other media related to these landmarks.


The information we gathered may be divided into two categories:


Live information

This is a direct feed from related and relevant websites such as earthcam for Trafalgar Square and County Hall; and BBC Parliament for the Houses of Parliament.

In other cases, for places such as the BFI IMAX, The Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre, Tate Modern, Shakespeare Globe we garnered and have used RSS feeds relaying information about current events in these spaces. We also drew images from slide shows and 360 images of places such as Westminster Bridge, OXO Tower and the Hayward Gallery from sites such Flickr and BBC London In Pictures into the map/legend.



Offline information

We used MySQL Data Bases to tag approximately 200 clips that we downloaded from Youtube.

We tried to produce a secondary level of engagement by dividing the information into the different places and different channels in order to fetch the stored audio -visual content and then play it onto the map/legend.


We are currently looking into setting up a video server to allow different levels of users to upload content onto this platform. This may include the material that public relations departments of the official sites might upload, tourists posting videos showing their own holidays or perhaps street performers showing the world their latest performance at the actual location.


 By working with various types of media we desired not to restrict ourselves to a specific technology but to engage with different commonly used technologies. In this way we could show that by gathering them together the enhanced experience of the view may be enhanced, proving that the buildings in the view are not just names but entities that have life.



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