Got GPS?


There probably isn’t much earthly ground left unmapped at this point, especially given the ubiquity of new tools and mobile devices. If new territories aren’t driving contemporary cartography, new socio-spatial relationships surely are. Maps may still tell us how to get from points 'A' to 'B,' but they are also being used to tell us where we might eat or get a wifi connection, somewhere in between. Even something as old-fashioned as milk and cheese makes for an interesting mapping adventure. At least it did in the hands of artists Esther Polak and Ieva Auzina, who, together with Riga’s RIXC Center for New Media, followed the production and consumption of Latvian milk through personal narratives and spatial delineations. For their 2005 Golden Nica-winning MILK project, the artists gave GPS devices to people involved in the dairy trade between Latvia and the Netherlands, representing their movements as animated maps, photos, and textual memories on the web. A kind of geographic documentary, MILK conflates the objectivity of mapping with the subjective experiences of economics, politics and, of course, other people. And this MILK is perfectly safe for lactose-intolerant viewers. -Ryan Griffis