Indeterminate Hikes
January 24, 2013 8:34 AM   Subscribe

"How do we engage technology sustainably and in a way that supports creativity and freedom?... One of the things I try to do... is to somehow interrupt the use of [new and emerging] technologies so that it causes people [an] unexpected and renewed awakening or sensibility of those devices being in our lives."

The co-founders of ecoarttech are Cary Peppermint (wiki), an art professor at the University of Rochester, and his partner Leila Nadir. They have created an app, Indeterminate Hikes ("IH+"), which guides the user via Google Maps to a use an indirect route to reach a destination, thus exploring urban surroundings in unexpected ways, "with prompts and activities". This work has been featured in a Whitney exhibition and the Danish re-new digital arts festival.
posted by knile (14 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Yes! I've wanted something like IH on my GPS for a long time. "Get me there the scenic way" or something. What I usually do is to tell it my destination and then drive randomly, relying on the GPS to keep me from getting lost.

I don't know what this has to do with sustainability, though. I guess the takeaway here is that no matter how good something is in a practical sense, it takes an artist to make an incomprehensible "statement" about it.
posted by DU at 8:55 AM on January 24, 2013

What's brilliant about DU's solution is it specifically involves ignoring the technology...

But only in short spurts.
posted by destinyland at 8:57 AM on January 24, 2013

How about if when you entered your location into gmaps for directions, you were actually served with the route of the previous person who had asked for directions from the same location?
posted by carter at 9:01 AM on January 24, 2013

I hate to be that guy, but when there is an assault on the branches of higher education that don't pertain to $$$, i.e. humanities, arts and research, taking a bunch of college kids out to have their cell phones tell them to put their ears on the ground and listen to the sidewalk in the middle of's just...okay...but can we keep it on the DL, people?
posted by etc. at 9:12 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd like to see a medical app that does the same thing. You enter your ailment and it suggests a very indirect way of getting better.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:22 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Haters are gonna hate, but I love this idea. Except maybe for Cary Peppermint's pretentious pronunciation of the word "vista." (It's "vista," not "VEES-ta." Unless we're in Spain or Latin America, in which case it may well have a different meaning anyway, not to mention a different pronunciation.)
posted by blucevalo at 9:28 AM on January 24, 2013

An app that provides additional sociological, historical, ecological, etc. information about my current and nearby locations would be quite interesting - kind of a location-based search for interesting stuff. From the description and sample screen on their main site for the app, though, it doesn't seem to provide much that I don't already do with no more technology than a map? However, I can see where it would be useful for re-training people who have only ever used google maps/gps for directions, and have never just sat and studied a map to learn about an area as a whole.
posted by eviemath at 9:36 AM on January 24, 2013

I can appreciate this as an artistic exercise making a point, but where I come from this is called, "getting stoned and going for a walk."
posted by cmoj at 9:36 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Somebody's got to mention Psychogeography, "a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities...just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape."
posted by Speculatist at 9:48 AM on January 24, 2013

Speculatist: Somebody's got to mention Psychogeography...
Thanks for this. I was looking for similar terms, and could only find experimental travel, which involved tracking down this post.
posted by knile at 9:58 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do people really not just go for walks anymore? Is it only me?
posted by echo target at 10:13 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Going for a walk on a different route each time, which I do, only explores near your house. If you want to explore stuff that is adjacent to your usual, much longer route, this would be a good way to do it. "I've always wondered where this exit went." "I wish I knew the back way here because this traffic light is always slow." Etc.
posted by DU at 10:26 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Interesting concept, but the prof needs to be told how to say 'vista'. Veesta? Really?
posted by Phreesh at 11:58 AM on January 24, 2013

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