Workshop #1 : Walking as Drawing

Tenley Frienship Library. Saturday, October 10th, 3:30-5:50pm

Thanks to everyone who came out and walked for 45 minutes, thinking of your paths as drawings. 

Walks were recorded with cell phone GPS apps and drawn on maps made with satellite imagery. The result is animated to show a collaborative drawing in space. 

The walkers were: Deb Fallows, Patty Fabrikant, David Holt, Jane Malhotra, Mary Alice Levine, Rich Levine, Doug Wonderlic, Juliet Six, Jeanne Sano, Melissa Kuntstadter, Lena Frumin, Matthew Frumin, Teressa Sappington, Sarina Khan

Photo by Jane Malhotra

Photo by Jane Malhotra

Video by Juliet Six

In this workshop we will examine the use of digital tools to explore the urban environment. GPS units are now embedded in most cell phones, and have transformed the way that we traverse space. We can see real time traffic updates, locate ourselves as a pinpoint from above, and see the fastest possible route to our destination. In this workshop we will not be destination oriented, but will use the GPS and overhead satellite view as a drawing tool. 

Instructions: Starting at the Tenley Friendship Library, we will walk for a set amount of time. You should think of your path as a drawing. Rather than trying to reach a destination, be in the moment and react to your surroundings. Trace your path with a GPS unit, a walking app for your phone, or draw it on the paper map. When we return to the library we will collect all of the walks and create a collaborative spatial drawing. 

The map below shows the confines of the project. If you want to use an app for your smart phone that will track your walk, try

TenleytownMap (3).jpg


The 24 satellites that make up the GPS space segment are orbiting the earth about 12,000 miles above us. They are constantly moving, making two complete orbits in less than 24 hours. These satellites are travelling at speeds of roughly 7,000 miles an hour.

GPS satellites are powered by solar energy. They have backup batteries onboard to keep them running in the event of a solar eclipse, when there's no solar power. Small rocket boosters on each satellite keep them flying in the correct path.

Here are some other interesting facts about the GPS satellites (also called NAVSTAR, the official U.S. Department of Defense name for GPS):

  • The first GPS satellite was launched in 1978.
  • A full constellation of 24 satellites was achieved in 1994.
  • Each satellite is built to last about 10 years. Replacements are constantly being built and launched into orbit.
  • A GPS satellite weighs approximately 2,000 pounds and is about 17 feet across with the solar panels extended.
  • Transmitter power is only 50 watts or less.


For more information on the background of this project, you can read this essay published in the College Art Association's New Media Caucus publication Media-N: Omniscient Prosthetic Eyes: How Satellites Are Changing Our Sense of PlaceAlso visit: to see past versions of this project from around the world. 

Finally, this work borrows from the projects and ideas of the Situationist International , and associated thinkers like Guy Debord and Henri Lefebvre. We are attempting to build on these ideas and further the project of exploring space and traversing the city in new ways. 

Freespace Collective. Walking as Drawing: Arlington. Arlington Art Center, VA 

Freespace Collective. Walking as Drawing: Arlington. Arlington Art Center, VA