Hubbub has gone into hibernation.

Machines for getting lost

It turns out Lone­ly Plan­et is not just in the busi­ness of help­ing you find your way, but also help­ing you get lost. I came across their exper­i­men­tal trav­el series when I was doing some con­cept devel­op­ment recent­ly for a her­itage site. A project I am work­ing on at the HKU’s DPI research group, which Hub­bub is an indus­try part­ner of. Any­way, we were think­ing about her­itage sites and the ten­den­cy of care­tak­ers to facil­i­tate explo­ration in the tra­di­tion­al sense: putting up name­plates, cre­at­ing routes, offer­ing tours, etc. But many of these sites, the one we were work­ing for in par­tic­u­lar, are won­der­ful places to aim­less­ly wan­der around in. When I myself vis­it­ed it, I was tak­ing pho­tos of places that felt secret, or were sur­pris­ing in some way, such as unex­pect­ed per­spec­tives. So we began to think about ways of engen­der­ing this spir­it of “get­ting lost” in peo­ple.

Drift Deck by Julian Bleecker

The Lone­ly Plan­et exper­i­men­tal trav­el guide­books serve as one exam­ple. They of course have part of their roots in the ideas of our good old friends the Sit­u­a­tion­ists. As does the game Boc­ce Drift, which I’ve writ­ten about here before. But there’s more nice ways to get lost. Such as Drift Deck, a set of cards that gen­er­ate a route through a city as you go. I also like that it has lit­tle assign­ments that chal­lenge you to med­i­tate on your sur­round­ings. It can be as sim­ple as the assign­ment giv­en to stu­dents by a friend of mine, who designs for soci­etal issues in under­priv­i­leged neigh­bor­hoods: draw a straight line across the map of the area you’re inter­est­ed in and fol­low it. Col­lect what you find and map it. Sim­ple. It has all the char­ac­ter­is­tics of what I think these “machines for get­ting lost” should have: a gen­er­a­tive mech­a­nism, an incen­tive to per­ceive your sur­round­ings in a new way, and a means to share what you find with your friends.

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5 Comments

  1. Pepijn
    Posted February 16, 2011 at 12:12 | Permalink

    This reminds me of a pho­tog­ra­ph­er gave her(his)self assign­ments and used the same set to vis­it sev­er­al cities. She(?) even used the cards to pick her hotel, place to lunch etc. Assign­ments would be some­thing like: go to the biggest foun­tain and find some­one with a bag­pack. Fol­low the per­son wher­ev­er he or she go. When they enter a build­ing find the near­est restau­rant, etc etc. And all doc­u­ment­ed with pho­tographs.

  2. Menno Faber
    Posted February 16, 2011 at 14:10 | Permalink

    Read­ing your inter­est­ing post I thought of an IDFA doc­u­men­tary I once saw: Dice­world (1999). Using only a dice and a imag­i­na­tive mind some peo­ple get ‘lost’ as well ;)

  3. Kars
    Posted February 16, 2011 at 14:28 | Permalink

    That’s an inter­est­ing exam­ple Pepi­jn. No chance of find­ing those pho­tos online, I pre­sume? Men­no: I real­ly need to get around to read­ing The Dice­man, the book on which this doc­u­men­tary is based. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Pepijn
    Posted February 16, 2011 at 19:07 | Permalink

    The find­ing of the photographer’s name and a link was a jour­ney in itself. First had to remem­ber where I saw the photo’s. Turned out to be at ‘Ned­er­lands Foto­mu­se­um’ in Rot­ter­dam dur­ing a sem­i­nar I vis­it­ed some time back. But when, they change the expo every few months. So on to the mail­box for the con­fir­ma­tion of my sem­i­nar tick­et. Feb­ru­ary 2009. Then back to the site, darn, not in the expo (had to google all pho­tog­ra­phers, didn’t rec­og­nize any of them.) Then, while drift­ing in the archive I found it with the new addi­tions to the col­lec­tion two months before my vis­it. It is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent from what I remem­bered, but it is very sit­u­a­tion­ist.

    http://www.nederlandsfotomuseum.nl/index.php?option=com_nfm_agenda&task=view&id=162&Itemid=196

    here are pic­tures of the book: http://www.motivegallery.nl/?page_id=2749

    There should be an inter­ac­tive web­ver­sion some­where, but I couldn’t find it.

  5. Kars
    Posted February 16, 2011 at 22:56 | Permalink

    You’re a ver­i­ta­ble web detec­tive Pepi­jn. Thanks for the sus­pense­ful sto­ry, and the links.