You Are Here

You Are Here is a networked art work by Scott Snibbe, that tracks and displays the paths of visitors walking in a specific public sphere. “The system displays the aggregate paths of the last two hundred visitors along with blobs representing the people currently being tracked. When viewers approach the work, they can display the live video image with the paths of currently tracked visitors superimposed.” The art work consists of two important parts: the overhead tracking that is done by six networked firewire cameras and a camera that integrates the images and tracks. “The custom tracking software integrates the cameras’ disparate views into a single composite data stream by correcting for lens distortion, then transforming each image into a common coordinate system.” [1]

The red arrow points to the visitor that is now looking at the installation. This viewer can also rewind the art work to see where and how the visitors travel throughout the designated area. This piece was made possible by new GPS technology, that is increasingly being used in other public spaces, as the streets, airports, shopping malls etc.. Unlike in the ‘real’ world, anonymity is guaranteed with You Are Here. There is no data collected and the only use of the gathered information is to show visitors their tracked paths. Because of the art work, the viewers get an understanding of surveillance systems capabilities and a visual representation of information that is normally only accessible as dry statistics. Also, the tracking shows the interconnectedness of visitors with other visitors to the space by giving them a sense of the aggregated presence of people over time. [2] The artwork makes the participant realize that they can be watched anywhere. This can be a paranoid experience, but making the people aware of existing GPS technology in the ‘real’ world at least informs the participants about its possibilities.

Because of the use of locative technology to track something, You Are Here is quite similar to MILKProject by Esther Polak, Ieva Auzina and Marcus The. MILKProject uses GPS technology to track and visualize the continuous global flow of milk. It follows the milk from the cow in Latvia to the consumer in the Netherlands. It is also possible to follow this ‘milkline’ on the internet through their website.

Willoughby Sharp, in Worldpool: A Call for Global Community Communication (1978), discusses how businesses are becoming linked with communication technology in a globally connected network, anticipating subsequent developments in digital culture. Because You Are Here makes the people aware of the possibilities of GPS technology, you could say that this artwork also makes people aware of the increasing network that they find themselves in because of the surveillance in the ‘real’ world.


[1] Snibbe’s website

[2] Snibbe’s website

[3] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 139

[4] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 229, 230