Questions about what it means to locate and be located are being significantly reconfigured through the digitalization of urban life and space, and as computer processing becomes embedded or ‘pervasive’ in urban environments. With position becoming increasingly automatically monitored and tracked within a standardized space and time, some critics suggest that it becomes less consciously thought about than part of a ‘technological unconscious’. Emblematic in this regard is the global positioning system (GPS), which is often promised to resolve questions of location definitively. This paper focuses on efforts by artists working within the realm of locative media to appropriate, reframe and repurpose GPS so as to question aspects of positioning technologies as well as their targeting of locations and their subjects. Attention centres on how these practices are embedded within a context of urban militarization and securitization, and how they may be complicit with military and corporate interests. But asserting the need to move beyond generalized condemnatory or celebratory accounts of the kind that have characterized much discussion in the field, the paper focuses on specific cases to draw out their dis-locative dimensions whereby they unsettle, unfix and reimagine forms of locating and being located. If political claims on their behalf are not secured in advance, critical potential is nevertheless found in the ambiguities, disturbances and resistances they hold open.
- Locative media
- technological unconsciousative arts