Riding Through Walls – Travelling to the Frontier of Creative Practice using New Technologies

Project website:

‘Riding through Walls’ is a 18-month durational performance in the form of a cross-Canada cycle through Google Street-View on a networked vintage ‘Air Wing’ stationary bike that enables me to propel myself visually through the map at the same speed as my pedalling.

The project engages with physical computing technologies, Google Hangouts, YouTube livestream, and the Google Glass, over a two-year period to track this physical endurance project and to test the capabilities of these tools to manipulate and record the contrived visual experiences.

Follow the journey live here, or from my YouTube Channel.

Keep in touch with me in real-time via Google+, Twitter #ridingthroughwalls, & Instagram.

Ride with me for the long-haul or join me as I come by your town!

Riding Through Walls is a performance by Megan L. Smith.

A series of images will be made during the performance using the Google Glass to document the visual journey and to engage with the public through Twitter and Facebook. The new media performance will be archived in form of visual and sensory data, including monitored pulse and eye tracking.

The project explores through practice-led research the impact of visual and data driven performance, the social and cultural implication of caching body statistics generated from wearable technologies and it tests new physical computing methods for extension into networked culture.

The project aims to build inter-institutional engagement opportunity through the comprehensive arts, sciences, technology, and culture research strands of this project and to produce an innovative new art work that generates original knowledge in the field of creative technology and STEAM research.

The networked bike is built from a vintage Air Wing stationary bicycle provided byMichael Grant.

The code and design of the project has gone through many iterations with support from Michael Grant, and John Campbell. It will be available on GitHub soon.




These FIELD NOTES form the beginning of a survey of zooplankton adrift Canadian Heritage water routes. You can view details of the project on this website
July 22 – August 15, 2016: a durational performanceThis piece will take place along the 700 km stretch of the Yukon River, from Whitehorse to Dawson City. With support from the Canadian Wilderness Residency Program.June 14-26, 2015: a durational performance

This project is part of Channel Surf, a Paddling Caravan of Research-Creation along the Rideau Canal curated by the Department of Biological Flow, and supported by the SenseLab & Gallery 101. 33 paddling 200 km from Kingston to Ottawa.

Thank you to Dr. Kerri Finlay, Lecturer, Dept. of Biology, & MAP at the University of Regina.

birds + drones + eyes

This is a curated bot:


DEFUNCT aims to creatively uncover and re-tell stories about decommissioned, or abandoned bases, in Canada using as narrators inhabitants who lived at these locations. It aims to bring to the public realm aspects of Canadian history. A particular emphasis will be given to the collection of stories, views and experiences of immigrants who came to Canada after World War II and undertook a military career.

First-hand stories from people who lived and worked on the bases are sought. The project is currently collecting stories about CFB Cornwallis, in Nova Scotia. Some of the people who lived on these bases are veterans of World War 11, and hence the current priority of the project is to collect as many of these narratives as possible, as this target group is an ageing population. The project is also seeking stories from civilian family members who lived on the bases.

The project will collect oral histories in the form of video and audio recordings that will be broadcast online and at festivals nationally and internationally.  The video will combine footage of the bases, in the defunct state that they exist in today, with imagery from archived film footage and photographic stills, obtained from personal collections. Importantly, this project should also be understood as a means of building an accessible digital archive of stories that are tied to people, locations and moments in Canadian history.

The public dissemination of the online content will be gradual throughout the production phase and a video will be released in the lead up to November 11th 2012.

List of Defunct Bases/

CFB Calgary, Alberta
CFB Centralia, Ontario
CFB Chatham, New Brunswick
CFB Chilliwack, British Columbia
CFB Clinton, Ontario
CFB Cornwallis, Nova Scotia
CFB Gimli, Manitoba
CFB London, Ontario
CFB Moncton, New Brunswick,
CFB Penhold, Alberta
CFB Picton, Ontario
CFB Portage la Prairie, Manitoba
CFB Rivers, Manitoba
CFB Rockcliffe, Ontario
CFB St. Jean, Quebec
CFB Summerside, PEI
CFB Toronto, Ontario
CFB Uplands, Ontario
CFB Winnipeg, Manitoba

Open Window In City/
Over Yonder: Open Window In City: Megan Smith

Open Window in City is a live-networked video installation that lasts 6 months across two twinned cities. This project, which is currently funded by the Arts Council of England and the Artimelt Academy, is in production and will launch later this year.

It is made in homage to ‘Hole-in-Space’ (1980), by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, and it is an indicator of how much technology has progressed since the 1980’s. Most importantly, in a society that claims to be globally networked, digital exchange is still primarily text based. ‘Open Window in City’ will allow two geographically separated publics to interact with eachother through live feed audio/visual display. This work identifies the importance of visual human contact and how the shift in technology can enable new community to form. The legth of time of the installation also allows the piece to become a part of the constant visual fabric of the two cities and thus generates a more solid communication channel between the two spaces.

In November 2010 ‘Open WIndow in City’ was tested with the support of ESA Leeds and the International Marketing team at Leeds City Council. It lasted three days installed across the twinned cities of Leeds, UK and Dortmund, Germany. The piece involved projections onto shop windows in both cities using webcams. The city of Dortmund was projected in Leeds and Leeds was projected in Dortmund and the piece allowed people from both cities to communicate with each other via a Skype connection.

Supported by the Arts Council of England & The Culture Company – The Artimelt Academy.

Over Yonder, networked real-time video installation between Westfalische Rundschau Lesershop, Dortmund, Germany and ESA Leeds, UK,
8-12 November.

Short Listed for: NorthernNet Creative Commissions, August.

Pst! microCONTROL/

Pst! is the surreptitious beckoning of attention and the acronym for Physical Space Tweets. It is an
installation of 5 small storytellers placed in a public space giving an audience a glimpse into geo-tagged community topic feeds that unravel in real-time. For the Leeds Pavilion at Mediamatic’s Amsterdam Biennale 2009 one storyteller, the initial Pst!, chronicled life in Leeds through its twitter feed, aligning itself with the exhibitions aims to showcase a city’s local cultural scene.

The installation locates public social narrative by pulling data from Twitter’s geocode API using the open source Arduino electronic platform and the internet. The stories are printed on mini LCD screens that visually display 140 characters at a time. A ‘Pst!’ device provides a window directly into a geo-located public space. It relays a community by narrating its social activity and tells a global story by placing various cities side by side.

For the Unleashed Devices exhibition curated by TINT at Watermans Art Centre the installation relayed geographically bound community feeds from Los Angeles, New York, London, Kabul and Beijing.

Supported with a Grant for the Arts Award from the Arts Council of England.

Conversations électriques, La Panacée, Montpellier, France. June – December.

Invasion of Privacy, Notfamousyet, Oxford, 22/10 – 30/10
Unleashed Devices, Watermans Art Centre, London, 01/09 – 22/10

Amsterdam Biennale 2009, Mediamatic, Leeds Pavillion,16/10/09-3/01/10



Social Moment_JamesBuck_08

The SocialMoment series draws iconic instances from the popular social media platform Twitter, during
surges of topic-centred emotional activity online. I have isolated these public reflections in digital print
to point to shifts in social perception and use of new media. One of the most significant tweets was
sent by Janis Krums (@jkrums) on January 15 2009 when a plane crash-landed in the Hudson River
in the U.S. His tweeted image circulated the world in seconds alerting of the crash and safety of the
passengers before any main news broadcasters could report the story. This act in turn boosted the
number of Twitter users and prompted a global conversation about the importance of citizen journalism
and the changing news broadcast situation.

The growing series draws attention to moments during the Iranian election, Michael Jackson’s funeral,
Canada’s final gold medal in hockey during the 2010 Olympic games, and NASA’s use of Twitter during
shuttle lift-off.

Twitter/Art + Social Media, Diane Farris Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, 01/04 – 01/05

As I become an avatar and Edwige becomes me/
Edwige Pronovost in NYC

After exploring the virtual world Second Life as a tourist, in the form of avatar Edwige Pronovost, I decided to flip my position to confront my inability to embody both a digital character and a weather resistant ‘flesh and blood’ avatar.
Within Second Life I had visited MoMA in NYC, the CN Tower in Toronto, Cocoa Beach in Florida and H-Building in Leeds and photographed them as a tourist. Between 2008 and 2009 I then travelled physically to the locations, became my avatar and then reconstructed the tourist scene in the physical.
Attempting to further shift the defining role of my identity and experience I did a performance at Barkston House in Leeds for East Street Arts, 2009. For this event I altered my formula by visiting the physical place as my avatar and then I entered Second Life as my ‘virtual’ avatar and built the scene. The goal was to play with the definitions of ‘virtual’ and ‘physical’ in order to demonstrate the complexity of operating within hybrid spaces.
A multi-screen video and live-stream installation was developed from this research for the ESA United exhibition in 2009. A digital video was produced in 2010.

As I become an avatar and Edwige becomes me. (2010) digital video, 5:34.

Sanctioned Array – Specify Otheres – 100 – November.
Leeds Digital Festival & Over Yonder, The Mint, November.

Our Music, Our City/

Our Music, Our City is a geo-located album in Leeds that runs off handheld SatNav devices. The project is lead by a team, including myself and two lecturers from Leeds Metropolitan University, Ben Dalton & Ben Halsall. The city tour launched 06/2009. I managed the production of 15 tracks across the city. The content was shot by and features a team of 50 Leeds based emerging artists, filmmakers and musicians. All the participants in the project, including students and recent graduates, were given professional development opportunities from industry experts and technical guidance on shooting for small screen devices. The tour has been taken by over 200 people since the launch on June 21.

The production was funded by HP Labs, Bristol, the Arts Council and Leeds Met University.

Workshop with Alfie Dennen on the development of the project and New Media – b.TWEEN09, FACT, Liverpool, June.
Northern Design Competition Finalist in New Media and Product Design, June.

Recipients of the Exploding Narrative development grant from the b.TWEEN08 conference. Our project was screened at the ICA London, Manchester Art Gallery, and at FACT, Liverpool.

My Portable Home/
Still from 'My Portable Home'

My Portable Home is part of curator Lars Vilhelmsen’s The Travellers Box project. I used a tent, rogue internet signal, laptop, cell phone, and audio-visual equipment to make the piece. The tent formed a symbolic shelter within the city. It represented a way to strip back from the comforts of a home and focus on the activity of communication, an act that can make one feel ‘at home’ regardless of surroundings. The final outcome, in the form of a video, documents a conversation between my mother and I; me based in a city in England, my mother in the country in Canada, referencing two opposing spaces that are networked through the internet and satellite cellular activity. Furthermore, the work points to the current ability for cultural groups to sustain contact with loved ones, a ‘sense of home’ while apart; a situation aided by increased public access to low cost web-based visual and text-based communication systems.

The Sandwich Box, ICA Overgaden, Copenhagen, June
The Sandwich Box, WOOLOO New Life Berlin, June

Still from 'Child'

Child explores technology mediated experience and bond with technology. The making of this animation and subsequent website documenting the process allowed me to experience and reflect on the intimate situation of human engagement with computer-generated imagery. While struggling through the technical aspects of the software, creating the exact size of forearm, adjusting the eyebrow depth, manipulating the x, y, and z-scales in the abdomen to manifest breathing, I was also biologically engineering the same within my own womb. I felt as though there was no break in human creation; I was making, reflecting and programming, with all aspects of my body and mind.
2008 The Mirror Stage, NeMe & IMCA, Lanitis Foundation in Cyprus.
2007 Odoo/Current, Genghis Gallery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
To experience the web documentary please use Safari or Firefox web browsers/

The Project/

The Project is a collaboration between Megan Smith & Benjamin Halsall. This project explores new methods of creatively mapping out space using mobile and GPS technologies and bloggin. It forms an archive of visual and audio narratives on place.

Bring the Happy, Invisible Flock – The Light, Leeds, 15/10 – 22/11.

Departure Lounge, East Street Arts, May 8-10
Online work documenting locations in Leeds and Berlin. Narrative audio files were available to download to mobile phones during the festival at a listening station.

Leeds Artists Show, Leeds City Art Gallery, UK – Project print showcased.
Situation Leeds, Leeds Met Gallery, UK
Promoted by the festival and sponsored by the gallery to realise a large scale exhibition detailing our project and to encourage visitors to be involved by using mobile phones available or by participating in a postcard project.

DoGoSee – Highbury, Hope Gallery, London, UK
DoGoSee – Leeds, Testbed, Leeds Met Gallery, UK
DoGoSee – Berlin, Germany

The Ottawa River/La rivière des Outaouais/
Still from 'The Ottawa River'

This film was shot in 2004 in Canada, on the river that separates Quebec and Ontario. It is a natural border and can be a fragile environment for political debate. Quebec is famous for its francophone culture and for preserving the French language. Unfortunately, for some people the provincial campaign can be stifling and can erase social history. This is done through the re-charting of municipal lines, the renaming of communities, streets, roads and cities. At times language police have monitored advertising for the appropriate use of French as the predominant language, and stories of informants quietly alerting the police to suspect businesses are not unheard of within the Ottawa Valley. This film was meant to be a subversive message, a question or a contemplative thought on the slow growth of the Quebecois culture as the language flourishes while some communities are forcefully stripped of their right to maintain their own identity.
I used American NTSC and edited in the UK through the European PAL system. The visual jarring is the result of pixel information lost in the translation between the two systems, and synonymous with the loss of information that occurs in communicating across cultures. In Britain this water expanse is often referred to as a lake, it’s breadth seemingly too grand to be a river. The act of skating on a natural water body is perceived as romantic, dangerous and a gamble on thin ice.
As of yet, the film has not been shown in Canada.
Ours: Democracy in the Age of Branding, Vera List Center for Art & Politics, New York
REBRANDING ACTS TINA B. – Prague Contemporary Art Festival, Czech Republic
2005 Immediate 3, Site Gallery, Sheffield, UK
2004 Sculpt, The Winchester Gallery, Southampton University, UK

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