When studying the Dadaists in undergrad, I remember being fascinated with the artists’ technique of going on walks to gain inspiration and materials for their work. Specifically, Kurt Schwitters’ Merz assemblage pieces (check the bottom of this post for more info). This seems fairly natural and obvious to me now – when I need to get inspiration and think about my projects it’s second nature to go driving, walk, get on the subway, or just take a shower to have time to think and mull-through some ideas, but at the time I was flabbergasted. Why would I want to just walk around for no reason?

The purpose of this project is to go on a randomly navigated journey which concludes in a collage/assemblage, and use the event as an alpha prototype for the creation of an iPhone application that would navigate these journeys for me.

Record myself saying forward, backward, left, right, take picture, and multiple 5 and 10 second empty tracks
Put these tracks into a playlist, upload to iPhone
Open iPod app on iPhone
Shuffle and repeat the playlist
Switch to Clock app and set a timer for 10 minutes
Switch to the camera app
Take a pic when commanded
Go back to my computer and make a collage – try various ways

Number of pictures able to be taken within allotted time
Attraction of idea
Worth of making application
What happens when you can’t the desired path? (add a “re-route button”?)
What if the route is against your moral compass or would put you in harm? (into a house, over a fence, into the ocean)
What if i’m supposed to take a picture where i’m in danger? (middle of an intersection)

Additional Questions:
What if a call comes in?
Should it not be time based? (10 minutes or whenever you feel like stopping?)
From the hip/blind picture taking? (more Dadaist)
How is this the same/different now that it’s a methodical application?
Suggest what to take a picture of? (something round, dark, jagged, etc)
Use other proponents of the iPhone? (vibration for take a picture, a way to use the ear-bud button for camera, etc)

Test 1
Time: 10 minutes
Total pictures: 9

Need a way to pause if it’s an application (use ear bud button)
Consider battery life
Need to start off with a direction
“Forwards” doesn’t mean anything… taking it out
I basically ended up walking around in a circle: adding a lot more pausing for next test
iPod’s shuffle repeats the same shuffled list, I had to reshuffle periodically – will add more tracks for test 2 to offset this
When you come up against an obstacle you can always stop, or just wander on your own
Use the voice as a guide, it’s okay to take liberties
It’s fun and actually really funny!


Great temptation to take individually “good” or “interesting” pictures, but better for collage to do flat spaces with some angles and perspective
Pictures of the sky help
Don’t have to use all the pictures
Take landscape view pics and only sometimes use profile
Should be able to crop at angles for collage
Collage needs to start out with a blank canvas
Need the ability to re-use pictures and not just one instance
Could be good to have a black and white setting for collage (pictures expose differently)

Test 2

Time: 10 minutes
Total pictures: 8
Canyons traversed: 1

Added more empty time and duplicated tracks to playlist
Took more horizon/foreground pictures
Followed commands less strictly (forced upon me)

I had it easy the first test – this one landed me in a canyon… twice!
When you run in to an obstacle, a rule set could be to use your last given command to rectify
Wear shoes; you never know…
Go in to it with an open mind
If you run in to something interesting, you already have your camera out and ready to shoot


If taking picture of horizon only, could create a timeline of the walk (possibly an automated feature)
Having a common element to revolve the design around (foliage and sky in this case) was very helpful

Test 3: Collage Only
Testing if it would work better to have a signifying mark to align pictures to which would make a common thread, so I tried to take pictures that had a line half way through the image and then stitched them together in a panorama-style collage.

Could be useful to fade in/out of images

Creating an iPhone app that leads you on a random inspirational journey, and perhaps prompts you to take pictures along the way, is the most useful.

Adding the ability to create small scale collages on the iPhone would be a waste: the amount of detail needed, as well as the users of the application that would use this function, would require more in creating an assemblage.

An alternative should be considered in creating an automated summary of the photos taken – perhaps a video or slideshow. The most interesting outcome of the prototype was the journey itself, and having a record of the happening would be a bonus.

iPhone Mock-ups:

Additional Features:
Upload or e-mail finished collage to server for others to see
Geotag pics with current location
Play music in the background and fade out/in with directions

Dada, Merz, and Kurt Schwitters:

Dadaism on Wikipedia
Kurt Schwitters on Wikipedia

Example Merz pieces:

August 1st, 2008

Daily Posts

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  • Day 2: Dennis Crowley
  • Day 3: Kate Hartman
  • Day 4: Jonah B-C
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