Created by Luiz Zanotello at the University of the Arts, Bremen, The New Velocity is a machine designed to plot the phantom Sandy Island using digital as a new analogy for its existence. The project investigates a charting error that persisted in cartographic maps even after the advent of digital media. It speculates how data and physical phenomena are entangled, and how in contemporaneity, the two have the same weight under digital media.
Sandy Island is a non-existent island that was charted for over a century as being located near the French territory of New Caledonia. The island was included on many maps from as early as the late 19th century, and gained wide media and public attention in November 2012 when an Australian surveyor ship, passed through the area and “undiscovered” it. The island was quickly removed from many maps and data sets, including those of the National Geographic Society and Google Maps. By reproducing the same phenomenological conditions upon which the island was seen in 1876, the project seeks to reinsert the charting glitch that endured in worldwide maps. The machine records new datasets that support the further existence of the island by manipulating its digital presence.
Sand piles are scanned by an infrared proximity sensor, which moves up and down over a platform replicating the movement of a ship floating over the high seas. The spacial data is mapped and visualized in realtime. The machine operates under four different preset modes, one for each dataset it records: coastline coordinates, water depth surroundings, topographical elevation and digital geotagging. Each set of datasets evidences the presence of an islet within the island’s range, and is posteriorly uploaded to Sandy Island’s open data bank for spreading.
Generative output (visuals and mapping) were created using openFrameworks with Raspberry Pi 2 and Raspbian Jessie. Physical motion and sensing were achieved with Arduino Uno + AccelStepper Library including two NEMA 17 Stepper Motors, two DRV8834 Low-Voltage Stepper Motor Driver Carrier, Sharp GP2Y0A41SK0F Analog Distance Sensor 4-30cm, red LEDs and toggle button and handcrafted wood and acrylic cases.
The New Velocity explores how the phenomenon of Sandy Island happens only under certain speeds, when piles of sand and piles of data have the same faulty consistency.