Drift – 2004



Teri Rueb

The ubiquity of GPS (global positioning satellite) and other tracking technologies suggests that "being lost" may itself be an experience that is being lost. However, simply knowing one's geographical location as expressed in longitude and latitude coordinates has little bearing on one's personal sense of place or direction. "Drift" poses the age-old question "Where am I and where am I going?" in a contemporary moment in which spatial positioning and tracking technologies provide evermore precise, yet limited, answers to this question. The installation embraces the flow of wandering, the pleasure of disorientation, and the playful unpredictability of drifting as it relates to movement and translation. Sounds blend footsteps on different surfaces with spoken word in different languages. Spoken word passages are drawn from poetry and literature dealing with the theme of wandering, being lost, and drifting. Meaning also drifts as Rousseau, Joyce, Kerouac, Mann, Dante, Woolf, and others are presented in the original and in translation. The Watten Sea becomes a metaphor for hertzian space as visitors are invited to wander among layered currents of sand, sea and interactive sounds that drift with the tides, and with the shifting of satellites as they rise and set, introducing another kind of drift. 

The installation covers a 2 km x 2 km region that is filled with areas of interactive sound. The region moves with the tide such that at low tide all the sounds are out on the Watt, at high tide they flood the town. Sounds play automatically as you wander through these interactive areas with a Pocket PC, GPS and headphones. The location of the areas changes constantly with the shifting tides - therefore, the best strategy for finding them is simply to wander.



"Drift" software was created by Computer Science students under the direction of Dr. Zary Segall, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC):

Henry E. Chen
William Chung
Bryan T. Hurley
Swapnagandha Joshi (M.S. candidate)
Muzaffareh R. Khan
Stanley J. Thompson

Technical support and implementation in Cuxhaven: Erik Conrad