Life a User's Manual: Impakt Walk

June 5-9, 2003

The city is a game board, where every story, every piece stands on its own, but is part of an intricate jigsaw puzzle. Both public physical spaces and private interior spaces contain traces of fragmentary personal [hi]stories tied together by an invisible network of media. How people inhabit the hidden 'image spaces', discovered by a wireless surveillance camera scanner, while at the same time inhabiting physical outdoor spaces, was revealed through the daily practice of walking during the Impakt Festival 2003. A map of the city was produced after 10 walks which 35 people participated in.


Life a User's Manual is a series of walking performances taking place in different cities, based around the activity of tapping into the unencrypted transmissions of wireless security cameras using a 2.4 Ghz receiver. In a search for the hidden stories within the city, a walk through the urban streets reveals an invisible network of watched spaces. The unencrypted signal from the camera leaks into public space, making it easily viewable from the street. This puts us in an interesting moment of uncertain inhabitation, of being in two spaces at once.

A tiny fraction of the spectrum of the airwaves has been allocated for public use, as if space and the air are not public already. Taking advantage of this unlicensed part of the spectrum, we have seen an increased used of wireless devices that are all fighting for use of this narrow band. Use of wireless [wifi] networks, cordless phones, bluetooth, and wireless cameras transmitting on this frequency contributes to an already existing invisible world of electromagnetic fields and frequencies that saturate our bodies on a daily basis. It becomes impossible to separate our bodies from the traffic reports, surveillance video, phone calls and pop songs of others. We wear each other's information.


To view expanded maps of each walk, click on the images or through the links below.

walk 1 | walk 2 | walk 3 | walk 4 | walk 5 | walk 6 | walk 7 | walk 8 |
walk 9 | walk 10

4 trailers of the walks were produced and screened during the Impakt Festival.

Trailer 1   [10.8 mb]
Trailer 2   [12.3 mb]
Trailer 3   [12.8 mb]
Trailer 4   [9.8 mb]

Life a User's Manual: Impact Walk is a project by Michelle Teran commissioned by the Impakt Festival for Out of the Box [Net.Art and the 'Real World'] Impakt Online. Curated by Derek Holzer.

in-kind support provided by Waag Society for Old and New Media. This work was developed during a one year artist-in-residence at Waag Society for Old and New Media. Funding provided by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Special thanks to Ryan Parteka and everybody from MeerTV.

ubermatic        impakt 

* click on the images to view expanded maps of each walk
walk9 walk5 walk10 walk4 walk3 walk6 walk8 walk7 walk1 walk2