Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Cycles: Collective and Individual 1.4
Cabspotting, by The San Francisco Exploratorium and Design and Technology Studio Stamen Design, is a project in which the city of San Francisco is mapped via the trajectories of individual cabs moving through the city. These cabs are already equipped with GPS devices to orient the driver through the city but in this case they are also used to capture in real time the cycles of the city. The Cabspotting web site is a living map of the city of San Francisco which regenerates as the cab rides change, stop, pause, repeat, as passengers are dropped off, picked up and transported through the city day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. In looking at this document, in looking at the intersecting lines and markings representing cab with passenger, pause, exchange, empty cab moving and throbbing on the black screen of the website one can begin to imagine the life and activity held within, around and about the cabs of San Francisco. Like the taxi rides in director Jim Jarmush’s 1992 film Night on Earth as described by literary theorist Trui Vetters in ‘Night on Earth’: Urban Practices and the Blindness of Metatheory; these moments transmit and contain networks of relationships and each is a “paradoxically mobile point of stability”. Vetters continues, “The random encounters that take place in this confined space between places, which is usually invisible to all but its occupants, are fleeting and transitory, yet meaningful and in some cases life-changing”. (21) Is it “life-changing” like the effect that the single interaction of two ants in the colony while focused and contained is transmitted one by one to have a significant effect on the overall system? In that essay, Vetters like de Certeau and Nuti argues for a more immersed experience of place and against the all encompassing view from afar, as removed, singular and totalizing.
21 Vetters, Trui. ‘Night on Earth’: Urban Practices and the Blindness of Metatheory.