Lost in location – on how (not) to situate aliens

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Abstract

The article investigates how users of personal satellite navigation devices (often referred to as sat-nav) are sometimes lost and led astray and argues that the satnav's aim to remove every insecurity about the correct route seems to remove the individual's conscious perception of the space traversed. While becoming destination aware, the individual loses her location awareness. The article proposes that the reason people get lost when using sat-nav is due to a wrong location-performative paradigm. As an alternative, the article introduces and analyzes two performance-related examples that illustrate an alternative location-performative paradigm: Meredith Warner's Lost/Found knitting series and Etter and Schecht's Melodious Walkabout. In both examples, the artist's hand becomes the intermediary between alien and location. Thus, by exploring how wayfinding can be a poetically situated performance, the article examines how the growing locative media industry can learn from the location-aware performative strategies employed by artists who create situated and urban performances for the curious participant. The academic frames employed in the analysis draw on psychogeography, site-specific performance, social and cultural geography, and aspects of phenomenology.

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