34 North 118 West (premiered 2002)

Map and users

Imagine walking through the city and triggering moments in time. Imagine wandering through a space inhabited with the sonic ghosts of another era.


"Media arts have grown around our abilities to record various aspects of sensible reality - still images, sound, moving images. Now we have the new capacity to capture the location, and it is opening up all kinds of new possibilities. 34 North 118 West goes beyond the previous artistic experiments in location-based media by combining the inventive use of GPS technology and rich cultural content. The project lets the user uncover samples of Los Angeles's hidden history as s/he navigates through the multi-layered depths of downtown's most poetic and surreal space. The result is a new kind of "scripted space" (Norman Klein): a motion experience, which is emotionally moving." Lev Manovich



Like ether, the air around you pulses with spirits, voices, and sounds. Streets, buildings, and hidden fragments tell a story. The setting is the Freight Depot in downtown Los Angeles. At the turn of the century Railroads were synonymous with power, speed and modernization. Telegraphs and Railroads were our first cross-country infrastructures, preceding the Internet. From the history and myth of the Railroad to the present day, sounds and voices drift in and out as you walk.

"This kind of storyworld reveals an often opaque, meaningless physical landscape to be a rich palimpsest of human meanings and experience." George Landow Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization

34 North 118 West is an experimental art work utilizing digital media, computation and GPS to deliver an interactive narrative experience across a one half square mile area, in downtown Los Angeles near Sci-Arc, The Southern California Institute of Architecture.

In this work, participants walk the streets of Los Angeles with a GPS device attached to a TabletPC. It is a sort of "narrative archeology" unearthing the stories of forgotten lives in the urban space. Visible on the screen is a map with easily identifiable trigger points for story segments performed by voice actors. Trigger points for sound effects are hidden, left to be discovered as the user walks through the city. In this way, the landscape becomes the interface and the participant's movement becomes input.

Jeff Knowlton, Naomi Spellman, Jeremy Hight