Laika’s Dérive – Initial research and prototyping

Laika’s Derive 1.0


Kiss Club Residency: practice ecologies– Initial research and prototyping


In 2010 I was invited to be an artist in residence at Kiss Club, a studio residency hosted by Performance Space in Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia. The residency (with its working space) allowed me time to focus on developing and delivering a new work. Up to that point I was producing works for predominantly gallery settings. As part of the framing for my doctoral study I was speculating about how to develop work when we consider the broader ecologies of practice, and the arts in particular. I approached the residency as an opportunity to explore what art outside of the institutional exhibition could be. That is, thinking about what the artwork could do, rather than what the artwork means. With this question in mind, I set out to develop a project that provided an experience for users, and delivered this to non-experts, and non-art audiences to amplify and draw attention to relationships, and to environments.


At the beginning of the development I also sought to develop a project to enhance my communication with my dog, Laika. The simple act of walking through space with a dog, following interests brought in many issues, about boundaries observed by humans, but not dogs, about how spaces are mapped.  In this early phase I saw the project as more than documentation of a human canine relationship, it was essentially a located experience mediated via technology, designed for myself and my dog.


During this residency I developed a system for capturing location data, and matching that to photographs in a simple data mapping arrangement. For this I used log-box, a basic and free mobile phone app for capturing and recording accelerometer and location data that exports CSV, and a GoPro camera mounted on my dog’s shoulders, set to record 30 photos per minute in time lapse mode. Those photographs were then manually downloaded, the EXIF data read (time stamps) and matched to the time stamps data from log-box. A simple sort then found dwell times and head angle in the log-box data and returned the ID of the photographs. This was done manually using Excel spreadsheets with a sorting formula.


For another sketch I took the data from log-box which recorded the sniff activity and wrote a program in Max/MSP to visualise the sniff data, and pull in photographs with the corresponding longitude and latitudes. The aim for this was to produce a time-based map of the derive, a visualisation and sonification of the sniff data. At this stage I was trying to develop sensory maps (visualisations) of place to produce a feeling based knowledge.


Outcomes from the residency included:

Web site – a repository for all of the photographs using XML and ActionScript 2.

Software for a visualisation and sonification of the sniff data: Using Max/MSP. XYZ accelerometer data was read from the log box data, then using jitter a line was continuously drawn in 3D. Photographs were selected from a folder based on the time and longitude /latitude stamp data to display on a plane below the line visualisation.


Exhibition: The sniff visualisation was exhibited as part of Animals, People – A Shared Environment: 4th Biennial Australian Studies Group Conference, POP Gallery, 2011, Griffith University, South bank Campus, Brisbane.


A Slide show: A simple slide show produced from the selected photographs to present a time-based experience of Laika, my dog’s dérive to an audience at the completion of the residency. There was an emotional reaction from the audience, and many felt compelled to come and talk to me about their relationship to their dog. It was at this point I realised that other people would like to acknowledge and record their relationship with their dog using a similar system. It was apparent that the images were more than a photograph, they became a document of intimate relationship.


Image 1: Laika testing the camera harness.

Image 2: Location logging app with CSV export.

Image 3: Overview of the data techniques developed during the Kiss Club residency; GoPro capture, Max patch design and web sketches.

Image 4: Photograph from Laika’s first walk. Photograph: Laika

Laika’s Dérive website v.1.0 –photograph repository and early geo mapping experiments

Image 5: Phase 1 interface to photographic records. 2011

Image 6: Phase 1 walk photo interface using co-ordinate mapping on google earth. 2011

Image 7: GoPro Omni Upload to Google Street View trial.

Image 8: Sniff activity heat map from Centennial Park.

Laika’s Dérive sniff visualisation using time and head angle, and time-stamped photography:

Image 9: Raw Log Box CSV data. Eveleigh walk. 2011

Image 10: Phase 1 Max/MSP patch for sonification and visualisation using GPS data.

Image 11: Phase 1 Max/MSP sub-patch for sniff processing location data.

Image 12: Phase 1 Max/MSP sub-patch for sniff visualisation.

Image 13: Sniff visualisation sketch from XYZ data with co-ordinate handle overlay. 2011

Image 14: Screen still from Laika’s Dérive Sniff. Animals, People – A Shared Environment, 4th Biennial Australian Studies Group Conference, 2011.

Image 15: Screen still from Laika’s Dérive Sniff. Animals, People – A Shared Environment, 4th Biennial Australian Studies Group Conference, 2011 Image 16: Data capture and mapping for returning photographs, 2011.