Saturday, April 3, 2010

Earth Sandwiches: Art of the Future?

“If the Earth were a sandwich, we’d get along so well…” –Ze Frank

In May 2006, performance artist, essayist, composer, dancer, and comedian, Ze Frank, challenged the viewers of his video blog, “The Show” to make an Earth Sandwich. An Earth Sandwich is made by:

1. Finding two places on the Earth directly opposite from one another. This is harder than it may sound since the majority of North America is directly opposite from the Indian Ocean. New Zealanders and Europeans can make quite a few sandwiches together. As can Northeastern Thais and Peruvians. People are Shanghai, China can make sandwiches with people in Concordia, Argentina.

2. Find someone in the country opposite from you and convince them to make an Earth Sandwich with you.

3. Place a piece of bread on the ground.

4. Have the other person place a piece of bread on the ground directly opposite you.

And there you have it! A sandwich with the entire Earth in the middle!

When the first Earth Sandwich was made between a team in Spain and a wacky guy in New Zealand, they video tapped the process and the placement of the bread and posted their videos online. And thus, art was made. Or was it? Is using GPS technology to determine a place directly opposite from you on the Earth and then simply placing a piece of bread on really “art”?

“Art” can be defined as “the creation of works of beauty or other special significance.” While it is certainly debatable whether or not an Earth Sandwich is “beautiful” or not, it certainly is significant in that it brings people on opposite sides of the Earth together to complete a task. It requires planning and cooperation. If only the two people, (or teams) involved see the Earth Sandwich, can it then be called “art”? Or does it need to be documented somehow are shared? Is the “art” made from the mere act of creating the work or does the work need to be viewed by people other than the “artists” in order to qualify as “art”?

Regardless, Earth Sandwiches and other GPS activities such as Geocaching, Earthcaching, Geodashing, Geofencing, Geotagging, GPS drawing, OpenStreetMap content, and Waymarking are changing the world we live in whether we like it or not. These GPS activities allow people from all over the world to not only communicate with one another, (which they’ve been doing via the internet with chat programs, social networking sites and IMs for decades), but to actually engage in activities “together” while physically “apart.” The creation of art of other GPS artifacts is only the beginning.

GPS technology has allowed for incredible advancements. Today, a GPS child locator can help parents and Police locate missing children quickly and accurately. These GPS Amber Alert devices have emergency buttons and can even allow parents and the authorities to “listen in” on their children, wherever they may be. Now that’s progress.

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