Anonymity and distance can often characterize the ways in which individuals move through physical spaces, their daily routines, and behaviours. Mundane tasks: a commute to work;  a stop for a coffee; grabbing lunch. However, by elevating an element of chance connection with others during into such tasks, there is potential to amplify the connection or curiosity of others with whom we share space, interact with, and form community.

A collection of individuals will be given beacons to wear that indicate proximity to each other as they move through their daily routines and spaces. The beacons will translate this proximity into a sensory experience for each depending on their relation to each other by using lights that grow brighter when people are closer, and dimmer, or off when further apart. The participants will not have any other indicators of proximity such as direction, or identity of the other participant without intersecting with them directly.

Enhancing the intersection of strangers as a means to disrupt the patterns in which one exists and amplify the moments that may otherwise be lost in the repetition and routine, this work intends to create curiosity about community and others that we share our communal spaces and routines with; to acknowledging chance - situatedness and temporality of interaction - and the creation of a varied experience in its retelling.

Questions that I hope to gain clarity on as a result of this project include the influence on changes in behaviour of participants to seek out meaning that is triggered by others, and the individual and collective responsibility (for sensation) be extended to a enhance interest and responsibility to community.

Invisible Threads are the Strongest Ties documentation, November 5, 2016.

This video documents Two fully functional beacons being tested in fall, 2016. The beacons’ lights glow blue until the participants are within 250 meters (2 blocks) of each other. The yellow lights continue to grow brighter as the participants (and their beacons) become closer in proximity.

In September, 2016 I participated in the Convergent.Studios Residency, hosted by the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art and the Okanagan co+Lab to focus on the development of the beacons. 

During the residency, I was supported by a series of mentors in the technical development of personal beacons that measure GPS and proximity data that is translated into a sensory experience using lights that grow brighter when people are closer, and dimmer when further apart, and the exploration of broader applications for the project  in business and community capacity-building sectors. 

The beacons were tested in various locations in Kelowna, BC, including this farmer’s field:

Functional prototypes of three beacons:

Two early prototype beacons:

Images below are made up of GPS data of me walking in my neighbourhood have been captured using SensorMonitor and processed using MATLAB.  For each pair of images, the raw, walking data is on the left, and the same data translated into colours based on lat/log and elevation over time are on the right. 

For earlier related work, see Thread.