Claiming the Portable Home/
Creative Acts of Identity Placemaking within the Networked Digital Domain

Megan Leigh Smith
BFA York University, Canada 2001
MA Southampton University, United Kingdom 2004
Thesis awarded in partial fulfillment of the requirements of
Leeds Metropolitan University for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Director of Studies/ Dr Elizabeth Stirling
Research Supervisor/ Dr Åsa Andersson
Research Advisor/ Ian Truelove

Chair/ Dr Guy Julier
Principal Research Fellow Contemporary Design University of Brighton/
Victoria and Albert Museum

Professor of Technology Enhanced Learning Leeds Metropolitan University/
Dr Janet Finlay
Lecturer in Digital Art Birkbeck University of London/
Dr Nick Lambert
Original submission/
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0
© 2010, Some Rights Reserved (See: Notes on Images) Megan L. Smith

2nd Ed./
Claiming the Portable Home/
Creative Acts of Identity Placemaking within the Networked Digital Domain
by Megan L. Smith is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
© 2011, Some Rights Reserved (See: Notes on Images) Megan L. Smith

Contents of this page


PDF Thesis to download/

Aditional links to research/

DVD Archive/



The digital revolution and the arrival of the internet have shifted the global social environment. This change in society has enabled new collaboration and partnership, access to and accumulation of previously unobtainable data, and it has transformed methods of communication. This research imaginatively stepped into this new space to produce works of new media art that investigated placemaking within the digital domain.

The project drew on the open-source culture and methods of hacking social media to engage with syndicated public content on the internet, handheld technologies, and geo-located datasets. Emphasis was placed on uncovering behavioral situation generated through the networked culture of the internet and developing original methods of storytelling that relay socially useful narratives. Furthermore, the research used ethnographic approaches to creatively investigate the concept of the transnational experience within the new cosmopolitan space. It engaged with the concept that the global community is forming a new culturescape that is impacting on the evolution of creativity, politics and the sciences.

The scope of the tools used adjusted and evolved in parallel to the continuous and ever changing media available on the net. The outcomes of the creative practice are therefore delivered across networked art, code, geo-located narrative, digital print, video, animation, installation, and a hybridization of all of these.

The project contextually identifies with current new media practice and it is situated as a creative competitor, participant and contributor in this space through successful public research outcomes that include exhibitions, publications, conference speaking, and attainment of grants and awards.

The examination submission is structured as a transmedia portfolio. It contains the printed supporting document to the practice, an artist book called ‘Cultural Probe: 8 July 2008 – 8 July 2010’ and a DVD archive of works made during the PhD research project.


I confirm that the thesis is my own work; and that all published or other sources of material consulted have been acknowledged in notes to the text or the bibliography.

I confirm that the thesis has not been submitted for a comparable academic award.


PDF Thesis to download/ MeganSmith_ClaimingThePortableHome_small (2MB)/

Items submitted for examination, in accompaniment to the paper thesis/

Artist book: Cultural Probe: 8 July 2008- 8 July 2010/ MeganSmith_CulturalProbe_small (6.7MB)

DVD archive of works made during the PhD

Additional links to research/


DVD Archive

DVD 1 / DVD 2 / DVD 3


Beat (2005) video/ 00:07/

An ultrasound of a heart beating. It was looped during the installations at Testbed 3 and SightSonic 05.


Child (2007) digital animation/ 04:41/

An animation of a sleeping baby made to evoke emotion in the viewer and to question technology-mediated experience. Shown at Odoo/Current and The Mirror Stage.


Making of Child (2007) screen capture of website/ 04:36/

The documentation of the combined experiences of making the ‘Child’ animation and my simultaneous pregnancy.


My Portable Home (2008) video/ 31:24/

The documentation of a geo-tagged conversation between my mother and I that happened across the city environment of Leeds and the country in Canada. Made possible through handheld technology and rogue internet signals. Showcased as part of The Travellers Box at New Life Berlin and at the ICA, Copenhagen.


Cultural Probe (2008-2010) video/ 05:58/

Documentation of artist book ‘Cultural Probe: 8 July 2008 – 8 July 2010’.


647 days 18 hours (2010) screen capture of interactive journey/ 03:11/

A record of the journeys taken over 647 days and 18 hours using the iPhone as tool to record my GPS location.


Playground/Play Ground/Ground Play/Lay Round PG (May 2009 – present) screen capture of website/ 04:11/

The documentation of a hacked WordPress blog in order to re- purpose it as a piece of art.


Edwige Pronovost in Leeds/New York/Toronto/Cocoa Beach (2008-2009) slideshow of performances/

Installations images from the United exhibition.


Edwige Selflessly Caged in the Web (2009) screen capture of website/ 00:33/

Re-creation of a subtle hack intoTwitter using the persona of Edwige who pops up on a feed crying for assistance. Based on a piece of work by Pipilotti Rist.


As I try to be an avatar & Edwige tries to be me (2010) video/ 05:34/

Playful attempts and failures to become a Second Life avatar virtually in the flesh combined with an exploration of real landmarks that are re-made within the virtual world.


SocialMoment (2010) slideshow of prints/

Reflections on moments within the last two years that have altered the purpose of social media and discuss shift in public behaviour. Shown within a Twitter/Art+Social Media.



concept video/ 03:00/

A slideshow of creation of work with details from the piece made for the Amsterdam Biennale and its evolution to the installation at Unleashed Devices␣


DVD 1 / DVD 2 / DVD 3


The DoGoSee Project (2006 – 2008)

screen capture of website/ 05:00/

[Content currently only available on DVD]


screen capture of maps/

Berlin/ 02:00/
[download map – 9 MB]

Highbury/ 02:22/ [download map – 11 MB]

Leeds/ 02:22/ [download map – 27 MB]



Un-edited interviews with people who repeatedly interacted with The DoGoSee Project (2008)

Axel Lapp/ 35:19/

Karen Watson & Jon Wakeman/ 35:24/

Mick Ward/ 32:26/

[Content currently only available on DVD]

Sarah-Jane Thornton/ 31:21/

[Content currently only available on DVD]

Steve Mosby/ 25:30/

[Content currently only available on DVD]

+ Reading track/ 04:26/

[Content currently only available on DVD]

DVD 1 / DVD 2 / DVD 3


Our City, Our Music (2008-2009)

Our City, Our Music is a collaborative project run by Megan Smith, Ben Halsall and Ben Dalton. It is a location-based audio/visual album on the streets in Leeds and it is experienced using Global Positioning enabled handheld devices.The project involved over 50 local emerging musicians and filmmakers who produced music videos filmed on location.

Northern Design Competition Finalist in New Media and Product Design (2009).

Recipients of the Exploding Narrative development grant from HPLabs and Just.b at b.TWEEN08 conference.Total prize £11 000 + travel to Bristol and Belfast for training and publicity.The project concept pitch was screened at the ICA London, Manchester Art Gallery, and at FACT, Liverpool.

concept pitch at MOSI/ 06:46/

b.TWEEN09 – Day 1 Overview/ 03:32/

slideshow of project development/

BBC Big Screen Ident/ 00:20/


interactive map of video and audio tracks made/

Our City, Our Music - interactive map of video and audio tracks made/