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GOOD OLD AI GPS Drawing: The Symbol of Research As Big As Paris

By cycling and walking through La Ville-Lumière, with a GPS receiver as a pencil, we have drown a 64 kilometer long logo of the GOOD OLD AI Research Network. Similar to the ancient Nazca lines in Peru -- and much like research itself -- this modern geoglyph shows how our footsteps, seemingly meaningless on the ground, can turn into a fantastic visual pattern understandable only from the sky perspective.

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"So they had begun to walk about in a fabulous Paris, letting themselves be guided by the nightime signs, following routes born of a clochard phrase, of an attic lit in the darkness of a street's end, stopping in little confidential squares to kiss on the benches or look at the hopscotch game, those children rites of a pebble and a hop on one leg to get into Heaven, Home."
-- Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch

Every day we draw by moving, without knowing it. Paths and shapes we create are governed by the logic of our everyday activities. By the place of our home, a small market on the corner, a streetlight under which we usually say goodbye to our loved one. On a personal level, those lines form the secret personal journals of our lives. On a city level, they create nothing less then a real cartography of the life in a town -- an invisible portrait of a city. One may even say that beyond those trails a city doesn't exist.

By making the line itself a cause of moving, however, we were able to experience a city never seen by anybody: an upside-down Paris. It was a strange and pointless conglomerate of buildings, streets and people, emerging randomly from the zigzag path of our hopscotch-like game. Yet, as ilogical as they might seem, these hoboish footsteps freed the city from it's common meanings. Parisian topography merged with our growing spiral: "O" crossed the heart of the Place de la République; letters "A" and "I" emerged from the formidable Parc des Buttes Chaumont; the ground line connected the peripheral ring from north to south; spiral-plant sprung from the Jardin du Luxembourg, growing through the Tour Eiffel and the Bois de Boulogne, and finishing its curly path of discovery in the heart of the Parisian star, the Place de l'Étoile

Paris itself became something else: not a city, but a canvas. The soil. The Earth.

Although it uses modern GPS technology, this project actually follows an ancient tradition of geoglyphs. The most famous ones are the Nazca lines in Peru: large designs in the ground made by removing dark surface stones from the whitish topsoil. Created by the ancient South-American civilization between 200 BCE and 700 CE, the purpose of these immense artworks still remains disputed: they might be giant astronomical calendars, religious messages to their gods, or maybe just irrigation schemes. After our project has already been formulated, we found out -- to our great surprise -- that one of the most famous Nazca pieces (on the picture below) resembles our logo in a profound way.

One might call it a timeless spiral. A human universal.

Since the old times, scientific and technological research meant seeking, changing perspectives, trying to understand and use the invisible patterns of nature. By showing how our apparently pointless wandering footsteps actually form a marvelous visual pattern from another viewpoint, we wish this contemporary geoglyph to be a true symbol of research.

 

Created by: Uros Krcadinac

Special thanks to: Milan Stankovic

Paris-Pancevo, July 2009.