projects@c-level downloads c-level event history c-level home map and directions subscribe to c-level e-mailer upcoming events email a question please classes,guides, and sourcecode

Race in Digital Space 2.0 presents

'Close Encounters'

by Christina Ulke & Marc Herbst









The Map of LA shows the racial majority of each neighborhood. When rolled over,
a geocaching map appears. The map shows you in which areas caches are hidden.
Most of South Central Los Angeles County - unlike other populated areas of the
region - contains no caches.

We created a cache on that leads this cyber-community into the real-world communities of South Central. Hopefully the projects helps a little in the economic sustainability of Leimert Park.

We invite you to come with us on this geocaching tour to Leimert Park. On Sunday, the 13th of October we meet 9am at the Annenberg Center for Communication, 734 West Adams Boulevard. The walk will take app. 3 hours, it is around 4.4 miles. We will help provide return transportation. Please RSVP

What is geocaching?
Using several technologies created by the pentagon, Geocache players log onto a website and find the specific locations of caches. The Global Positioning System is a military-run location-finding system that uses satellites to precisely map a grid. With exact latitudinal and longitudinal information, the players leave their homes guided by a GPS device that leads them directly to hidden prizes. Most of the sites are hidden in reserves- lands barren of residential streets, homes and most importantly human eyes.
Many reports on the sport talk about its inception with the Clinton Administrations easing of restrictions on civilian uses of GPS Technologies.

How do geocachers navigate through space?
With the help of satellites and hand-held GPS indicators, real landscapes have become virtual. Hillsides become terrains to navigate; cities become videogame ghost towns to sneak through; players become soldiers seeking a target.
In urban areas, geocachers are shy to meet other people. They look for terrains to be without conflicts, they treasure the one-to-one challenge of finding the cache with their GPS and their wits. Everything else is a distraction. ["...The place was deserted, as least looked deserted. The cache was well hidden and clues were right on. Took American flag pin and left lantern keychain"] Since they move through spaces not guided by the routine of a resident or the derive of the hiker, their movements are always suspect. It is the technology that excuses their aberrant behavior.

Why 'Close Encounters'?
The project invites geocachers to proactively step out from the cyber-realm into the charged terrain of racial politics. In finding this cache, players navigate both the usual external terrain and the mental inner space that surfaces when confronting cultural difference. Our cache is in Leimert Park- a middle class African American neighborhood. The storefronts feature Afrocentric art institutions, one of the keys to the neighborhood’s blossoming was a gallery that displayed contemporary black artists known to the international art scene. Neighborhood residents are integrated into the greater economy of the LA Basin, while also proudly creating Leimert’s specific culture. Perhaps, geocachers who stumble into this neighborhood will reflect on the ways in which their own communities reveal themselves.

Why geocachers in Leimert Park?
Asadullah Samad says, “The merchants go about their way of making daily culture real in a city that celebrates culture by the calendar, not by the birthright”. The interface with the culture of Leimert Park is its markets, galleries, and restaurants. These institutions invite access, interaction and exchange. Perhaps then, besides bringing in the sign of the stranger to the community, geocachers will exchange cash for goods - facilitating the maintenance and growth of the town."

The monetary exchange is important in this “post-civil rights” community. Leimert Park’s affluence and apparent stability are a surprise to those who assume that any place south of the 10 Freeway is a gang riddled drug land. Its uniqueness in the southern LA manifests the regions limited access to capital- all of South Central could look like this if there was the money and the will. It is interesting that there are so few geocaches in the South of the 10. As much as it speaks of the fear of those living north of the 10, it also speaks of the cultural difference and questions of economic access by residents living South of the 10.




About C-level