Tomorrow is the opening of the exhibition Out Of Play in the National Football Museum in Manchester. One of the works exhibited will be ‘Unruly Pitch’, a collaborative project which I was invited to be part of with Jen Southern, Prof. Chris Speed and Chris Barker.
This project aimed to track and visualise the movement of six players in the annual Uppies and Downies mass football game in Workington. One of the last remaining football games of its kind, the match is played throughout the town centre in an unpredictable game without rules. Using small GPS devices to track the movement of 6 players (only 5 recorded GPS data), the visualisations will reveal some aspects of the game and in particular the irregularity of the pitch.
The final project is composed of 3 different pieces. A printed ‘map’, a replica of the ball engraved with the tracks, and a video drawing the game dynamically with footage in the background. Each of the three pieces convey a different dimension of the game. The map, recalling survey maps, is intend to describe the ‘pitch’. It is a visualisation of the ‘objective data’. Moreover, it gives a reflection of the game from the players internal point of view thanks to the ‘hidden’ interview based text. The video gives an immersive and dynamic vision of the action. However it is also an outside point a view as it is filmed not by a player but a spectator. The ball represents the symbolic aspect of the game, perceived as the ‘Graal’ by the players.
This game could be described as a tactical, organized chaos. Everyone knows in which team everyone they are, even if there is no visual distinction; they have ‘secret’ tactics (like key words, touch codes…) to communicate. It is all about the group and how they are going to move together to get the ball on one or the other side of the town. Jen asked an interesting question regarding this during one of our discussions: how is moving together different to moving individually? The tools used were GPS watches and the result is individual tracks; they are ‘so much about the individual and often visualised as an individual trajectory’ (Jen’s words). What we wanted to convey and study with this work wasn’t the individual interpretation of GPS signals, but how they work in relation to each other. There is something quite unusual with this game as it is both about groups and individuals – as they all play for the same goal but at the end only one player can throw the ball and can keep it as memory of the victory.
Finally another interesting element of the game we talked about during the project was the evolution of the pitch in relation with the modification of the geography of the town and how it modified the game. Some fields are now a construction site, buildings have been demolished or constructed… And because the town, or even further (as there is no rule and no boundaries defined) can be used by the players with no limits. A parallel study of the evolution of the game and the geography of the town could be very interesting.
Here are the 3 elements of the final work. Soon the pictures of the exhibition itself.
Interesting work by Plan B. It is a very good reference in relation to my own work with MyMap. In a way I am also making a drawing of my life by revealing the map, but instead of having only lines on the white canvas, I am revealing where the user have actually been, making it more like a painting.
“I record everywhere I go (outside) with a GPS. I have been doing this since April 2003. My intention is to develop a sense for the drawing I am making across the surface of the earth with my body every time I move. There are technical reasons for why this is not easy in a building but everywhere I go that is in clear view of the sky, I turn my GPS on and begin recording my location. The initial impulse behind wanting to know what the drawing of my life would look like started when I contemplated leaving London where I was born and grew up and started spending more time in Berlin after 2001. At first I mourned the thought of all that knowledge of how to navigate around London plus all the stories and events that inform how I ‘read’ London being rendered useless in the new city. On further contemplation I realised that Berlin was offering me an option London now denies me – I could chart myself learning about a new city in a way I can’t with London – I could watch myself ‘joining the city up’.” by plan b
I created a new app called Mymap, working on the concept to expend our territories and encourage to reflect on all the place we will have to discover in our life, as well as the one we will never see.
De Certeau argues that the act of walking selects and fragments the space traversed; it skips over links and whole parts that is omits. Moreover it can “be traced on city maps in such a way as to transcribe their paths and their trajectories. But these thick or thin curves only refer, like words, to the absence of what has passed by. A spacial order organises an ensemble of possibilities and interdictions, then the walker actualises some of these possibilities. In that way, he makes them exists as well as emerge.” . It is what the app is doing: revealing the choices taken, the places visited or the path used, while the rest is hidden behind a white layer.
This is the mockup of my idea.
In my head it was quite a simple idea (coming from a person who don’t have any experience in coding yet) but in application it has been quite difficult and several iteration of the app had been necessary.
First I thought it would have been possible to make a reverse heat map: instead of having colours appearing on a layer on top of the map, it would make transparent the white layer. In practice what was possible is to draw a white layer on google maps by giving the points clockwise then removing polygons from this layer by giving the point anticlockwise. It created a lot of different issues: closing the route every time we created a new point: drawing the territory and not the route; superposed polygons resulting on re-masking the map…
The solution came up with the discovery of hulljs. Using a complex algorithm, it draws around the GPS points the route.
The app uses phone gap, a free and open source framework that allows you to create mobile apps using standardized web APIs for web platforms as well as mobile app with the same code. The language is Java Script. To store the routs (even is it not possible yet with the current version) HTML5 Local Storage will be use. Google maps API, Cordova plugin geolocation and the GPS of the phone are used as well.
I am already thinking about a future version of the app. I would like to make the map appearing in different shade of colours: for example the area you use all the time (’your territory’: going to work and back home for example) would be tinted in red, whereas the one you visited only once would be blue. it would allow a better understanding of the territory.
For this idea I also looked into the concepts of ‘creating your own border’ and ‘staying in your confort zone’, however, this time on ow to expend our territories and encourage to reflect on all the place we will have to discover in our life.
For that, I want to create a mobile app: it will be a white page when you start using it for the first time, then the map will reveal itself when you went somewhere physically.
I tried to make a visualisation of my idea in this short animation:
In my head it is quite a simple idea (coming from a person who don’t have any experience in coding yet 🙂 but we already told me that it is not as simple and I am worked I will not be able to make it on time for the 13th of december.
One way I think it might be possible is to make a reverse heat map: instead of having colours appearing on a layer on top of the map, it would make transparent the white layer.
The second stage of this project (depending how difficult it is to do the ‘simple’ idea), would be to make the map appearing in different shade of colours: for exemple the area you use all the time (’your territory’: going to work and back home for example) would be tinted in red, whereas the one you visited only once would be blue.