University of Rochester and ecoarttech
United States of America

Networked Nature Hiking in the Mobile Landscape

We propose a creative presentation of our art project and Android/iPhone app, Indeterminate Hikes+. In the following proposal, Leila Nadir will provide general information about the app and a brief description of how it relates to the interests and themes of ‘Differential Mobilities.’ Originally conceived for a Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition, Indeterminate Hikes + is a mobile media app that transforms everyday landscapes into sites of bio-cultural diversity and wild happenings. Generally devices of rapid communication and consumerism, smartphones are re-appropriated by IH+ as tools of environmental imagination and meditative wonder, renewing awareness of intertwining biological, cultural, and media ecologies and slowing us down at the same time. The app works by importing the rhetoric of wilderness into virtually any place accessible by Google Maps and encouraging its users to treat these locales as spaces worthy of the attention accorded to sublime landscapes, such as canyons and gorges.

In creating Indeterminate Hikes, we wanted to explore if the widespread opinion that mobile devices prevent meaningful connections to place, redirecting our attention from the world around us to the screens in our hands, was a necessary and inevitable conclusion. We wanted to know if place-making can be created not despite mobility but perhaps through and with movement across spaces and networks. Is there a sense of place that can be experienced specifically in the context of mobile landscapes? And can mobile phones actually get us to slow down and notice these places?

Merging primitive with emergent technologies, Leila Nadir and Cary Peppermint’s art investigates the overlapping terrain between ‘nature,’ built environments, mobility, and electronic spaces. Between the two of them, Nadir and Peppermint’s research has been awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Digital/Electronic Arts Fellowship, New York State Council on the Arts Media Arts Grant, Andrew Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship, and Franklin Furnace Performance Grant. Peppermint is Assistant Professor of Digital Art at University of Rochester, where Nadir also teaches humanities courses in the sustainability and digital studies programs.

At the conference, they will lead a group hike, using our app, with participants. They have lead hikes all over the world, from Copenhagen and Bilbao (Spain) to New York City and Los Angeles. For more information about Indeterminate Hikes+, please visit this website, which includes documentary images, an information video, exhibition history, and extensive description: http://ecoarttech.org/projects/indeterminate-hike.