"To cover the world, to cross it in every direction, will only ever be to know a few square meters of it... tiny incursions into disembodied vestiges, small incidental excitements, improbable quests congealed in a mawkish haze a few details of which will remain in our memory. And with these, the sense of the worldís concreteness...no longer as a journey having constantly to be remade, nor the illusion of a conquest, but as the rediscovery of a meaning, the perceiving that the earth is a form of writing, a geography of which we had forgotten that we ourselves are the authors."
– Georges Perec, Species of Spaces

PDPal is an ongoing series of public art projects for the Palm™ PDA, mobile phone and the web. It has pushed at the notion of mapping, attempting to transform your everyday activities and urban experiences into a dynamic city that you write. PDPal engages the user through a visual transformation that is meant to highlight the way technologies that locate and orient are often static and without reference to the lively nature of urban cultural environments.

Your own city is the city composed of the places you live, play, work, and remember. Itís made of the routes and paths through which you make connections. Your city is also about the meanings you ascribe to the places you inhabit, pass through, love or hate. You imagine those places and routes as more than a street address, or directions you may give. These places have vivid, metaphorical meanings and histories that PDPal allows you to capture and visualize imaginatively, effectively writing your imaginary city.

In response to the plethora of mapping projects that have utilized GPS and measurable cartography, PDPal has been anti-geographic and anti-cartesian, preferring to experiment with the construction of relative, emotionally based systems that ask: what makes social or personal space. PDPal responds to the century-old idea of the urban explorer: from Baudelaire's "flaneur" (late 19th c); the Dadaists' public performances of nothing, sometimes called "deambulations" (1921); Benjamin's texts on the urban wanderer (1920's); the Situationists' algorithmic "derives"; Hakim Bey's "Temporary Autonomous Zones" that spring up in the cracks of urban regulations, and are opportunities for brief piracy of a place; and contemporary work in psychogeography - all deliberate projects of "getting lost" in the city, thus restoring it to a great dense space of wonder, not just a locus of labors.

Eyebeam Atelier, NYC "Beta Launch" show and artists' residency 2002
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN 2003
Transmediale Festival, Berlin 2003
University of Minnesota Design Institute, "Twin Cities Knowledge Maps" 2003
Times Square, NYC "Creative Time Presents" 2003-2004
Whitney Museum of American Art, Artport 2003
Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre, Alberta Canada "Database Imaginary" 2004


Presented at eyebeam atelier in New York. In this first version of PDPal, a user beamed an app to their PDA from the installation, much resembling a bus shelter with a two-sided duratrans. The user would input criteria about their social, tactile, weather, and speed conditions, and the PDA app would return a pictographic "haiku." there was further room for a short text annotation. Users could share these haiku" by beaming them to one another.
-> click here to see web site
-> click here to see installation documentation

Commissioned by the Walker Art Center through its EAEM3 grant, a PDPal kiosk was installed in the Minneapolis Sculpture Park for Summer 2003. This and the following iterations did away with the application-generated pictograms, designing instead a complete cartographic system of 'stickies,' pictographic symbols, and parameters by which a user could map their own city, with or without the Cartesian grid. The kiosk contained a beam-able PDA application, through which users could map the sculpture park, and after hot syncing their PDA to their computer, could upload the data to a web site. The web site was more extensive, allowing users to map Minneapolis and parts of St. Paul.
-> click here to see web site
-> click here to see installation documentation

PDPal was part of the"Twin Cities Knowledge Maps" commissioned by the University of Minnesota Design Institute in 2003. Nine large interpretive maps were printed, offering views of Minneapolis/St. Paul on the themes of MOVING, WEARING, TELLING, RESTING, PLAYING, DWELLING, EATING, SHOPPING and MEETING. PDPal functioned as experimental documentary, using symbols and short anecdotes to reflect diverse daily paths through the metropolis. On the reverse side, a user could write their own city, using PDPal's recording system and a set of pictographic stickers.
-> click here to see web site
-> click here to see map images

Commissioned by Creative Time in New York, PDPal appeared in Times Square in the Fall/Winter of 2003/2004. PDPal had three components:
- Once every hour, a 1-minute movie was broadcast on the Panasonic Astrovision board as part of Creative Time's "59th Minute" series
- Two kiosks, one stationary and one that moved monthly, were stationed in the Times Square area. Each kiosk contained a graphic of Times Square and a beaming box that contained the PDA application. Participants could beam the app to their PDA in order to map Times Square.
- Two scheduled "walkabouts" were performed by the PDPal team, Creative Time, and participants. People convened at Chashama Theater in Times Square, broke up into teams, and carried out mapping missions in the area for an hour. we all then reconvened to share our map/narratives. Missions were either to be an alien anthropologist, carry out an algorithmic walk, or investigate a documentary aspect of the area. Glowlab participated in the first walkabout; click here for their report.
-> click here to see web site
-> click here to the user guide / brochure
-> click here to installation documentation
-> click here to see the Astrovision movie for the 59th minute

To describe space: to name it, to trace itÖspace as inventory, space as invention.
‚ Georges Perec, ìSpecies of Spacesî

PDpal's third iteration, called Mobile Scout, is an audio field guide, collecting phoned-in narratives of one's local surroundings, personal rituals, and public sightings. Using your mobile phone, you leave a voice message of your observations with the Mobile Scout Ranger, our automated quirky naturalist.
Mobile Scout asks you to be on the lookout for rare or endangered ìspeciesî of landscape, character, and event, revealing moments that would otherwise remain invisible or disappear, like the accidental performance art one encounters, a land developerís crimes, or the wind as you ride your bicycle up a hillside.
Mobile Scout defines place as being made of social habitats, not geography. Your recordings are organized into an audio/visual field guide according to the kind of space you occupy, be it play, work, nature, culture, public, private, branded or free speech.

Mobile Scout will be presented in the upcoming exhibition "Database Imaginary" curated by Steve Dietz, Sarah Cook and Anthony Kiendl. Originating at the Walter Philips Gallery at the Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada, the exhibit will tour Canada and Europe in 2005-06.
-> click here to the user guide / brochure

-> click here for 2003 press in .pdf format
-> click here for article by cartographer and professor Denis Wood in .pdf format

-> click here for eyebeam atelier installation documentation
-> click here for Walker Art Center installation documentation
-> click here for The U of Minnesota's Design Institute "Knowlege Map" documentation
-> click here for Creative Time installation documentation
-> click here for various PDPal swag documentation


PDPal represents a synthesis of three individual artists' interests. Scott Paterson explores architecture as an interface protocol between the activity of our daily lives and the space of digital networks. Marina Zurkow addresses the characteristic aspects of PDPal, as well as the narrative direction embedded in a map-making project. Julian Bleecker is drawn to the project by his continuing study of the ways technology can create an engaged critical consciousness about culture. Parsons School of Design MFA DT students Shruti Chandra, Vicoria Fang, Fang Yu Lin, Jen Wheatley, and Austin Chang were part of a research fellowship that ran from Jan 1- June 15, 2003.

Julian Bleecker has been involved in technology design, the development of mobile and networked technology systems, and scholarly work studying the mechanisms by which technology design and innovation occurs.

Currently, his interests are focused on exploring the relationships between place and social engagement through the use of 802.11 ìWiFiî technology. WiFi.Bedouin is a mobile, portable WiFi node that serves as a wireless communications node, allowing one to have a personal web server disconnected from the public Internet. WiFi.ArtCache is a WiFi-based repository of smart art objects that users can download to their WiFi-enabled laptops. WiFiKu is a project that constructs interpretive maps representing urban neighborhoods based on Haiku constructed from the names of WiFi nodes in those neighborhoods. NetMagnet is a spatial networking experiment that performs file-swapping amongst computers that are physically proximate. He recently collaborated with Marina Zurkow and Scott Paterson on PDPal, a Palm-based art-technology project, which received the Emerging Artist, Emergent Media Grant from the Walker Art Center. He has been granted art-technology residencies at Eyebeam Atelier, the Banff Center for the Arts, and has had projects shown at the American Museum of the Moving Image, Bitforms Gallery, Art Interactive, and Times Square.

He has a Bachelorís Degree in Electrical Engineering, a Masterís Degree in Computer-Human Interaction, and a Ph.D. from the UC Santa Cruzís History of Consciousness Board where his dissertation is on technology, culture and entertainment. He is an Assistant Professor in the Interactive Media Division and Critical Studies Department of the School of Cinema-TV at the University of Southern California.

Scott Paterson is a practicing information architect and interaction designer in New York. He teaches Interface Design, Multimedia Studio and Thesis Studio in the MFA in Design and Technology Program at Parsons. He also has taught a course, Interfaces for Public Space, at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture. His education includes a Bachelor of Architecture degree from University of Minnesota CALA and a Masters from Columbia University GSAP.

After working as an architect for six years in New York, he joined Plumb Design (www.plumbdesign.com) as a site developer and forged his own position ‚ a liaison between design and technology departments ‚ as a technical producer. Independent work since leaving Plumb Design explores architecture as an interface protocol between the activity of our daily lives and the space of the network. Recent projects include PDPal (www.pdpal.com) a mobile-based storytelling project that has exhibited internationally, a wireless PDA interactive examining the potential overlaps between networks of streets and mobile devices, and a public curatorial environment for Mass MoCA. He has received grants from the Walker Art Center, Parsons School of Design and The Design Institute at the University of Minnesota. Scott is an active member of the new media art community including Rhizome.org and Mindspace.net, he lectures internationally and his work has been exhibited in Amsterdam, Berlin, Florence, Mexico City, New York and at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Marina Zurkow is a multidisciplinary artist who works with character, icon, and narrative in several forms: animated works, interactive installations, and material goods.

In 2004, Zurkow completed a seven channel, multi-linear animated installation, ìNicking the Never,î which was first presented as a work-in-progress at The Kitchen in New York, May 2004.
Other recent projects include the award-winning animated episodic ìBraingirl,î that chronicles a mutant-cute girl who wears her insides on the outside; ìPDPal,î a mapping application/ installation for screen, web and mobile devices that allows a user to ìwrite her own city,î in collaboration with architect Scott Paterson and technologist Julian Bleecker; and ìPussy Weevil, or How I Learned to Love the War,î a vile, interactive, animated persona. Zurkowís icons and characters have been incorporated into diverse projects, from animated films to hotel design, lightboxes and clothing.

Zurkowís work has been exhibited at the Sundance Film Festival, the Rotterdam Film Festival, Ars Electronica, the Walker Art Center, the Brooklyn Museum, SFMoMA, Eyebeam Atelier, Totem Design and bitforms gallery, and broadcast on MTV and PBS. Zurkow was a 2003 Rockefeller New Media Fellow, and received grants in 2001-2002 from Creative Capital Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and the Walker Art Center. She is an adjunct professor at Parsons School of Design in the MFA Design & Technology Department.
After attending Barnard College, Zurkow received a BFA with honors in Fine Art from the School of Visual Arts, where she also received the Silas Rhodes Award for Outstanding Achievement. She was born in New York City and resides in Brooklyn.

©2002-2004 Bleecker, Paterson and Zurkow