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Ground Station

GPS technology and a computer program combine to make a musical composition on a grand piano.

The haunting musical compositions visitors hear in Ground Station originate with the same technology the US military uses for missile guidance.

Ground Station is the result of a collaboration between BC-based artist Daniel Jolliffe and Quebec composer and artist Jocelyn Robert. Their installation is comprised of a Yamaha Disklavier piano, a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver that accesses signals from orbiting satellites, and a computer. The GPS signals are translated by an artist-designed computer program into a continuous, real-time musical composition played by the piano. Even without knowing much about the work’s intention or its significance, most people marvel at its sound and the technology behind it: music made from the surveillance of satellites. Originally developed for military applications, GPS technology is now used for navigating hikers, boaters, and drivers.

Read about the Ground Station publication

About the Artists

Daniel Jolliffe

A media and visual artist since 1989, Daniel Jolliffe's work is a synthesis of sculptural practice and electronic technologies. His works take an original approach to the interaction of the body and technology, creating physically intensive experiences that challenge the conventional 'point and click' constructions of interactivity. Working with sculptural frameworks that conceal the very technology that gives rise to their interactivity, his works query how embodied conscious experience is changed by the intervention of technology.

Daniel's interactive works and technology-based art projects have been shown across Canada and the United States. His most recent piece, a collaborative GPS sound composing project with Jocelyn Robert, has been presented in Vancouver and Chicago; in 2003 La Salle des Noeuds will toured as part of the exhibition Points of Entry to venues in New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, and Canada.

Professionally, he has served as co-director of the Digital Earth Society in Vancouver, B.C. which in 2000 presented ZDM: A Theme Park of Electronic Culture, a festival exploring the connection between biotechnology and art practice. He has taught workshops introducing artists to the conceptual and practical issues of electronic interactive works across Canada and in Finland and Zimbabwe. With Nina Czegledy, he co-founded the Critical Media Society in Toronto; he has served as both member and chair of the Board of Directors of Open Space Arts Society in Victoria, British Columbia. He is currently completing a degree in philosophy at the University of Victoria.

Jocelyn Robert

Jocelyn Robert studied pharmacy and architecture before becoming a subversive artist. He is interested in the instant, the space between nothings, the banalytic archaeology. Writer, composer, audio artist, video artist, installation artist (among other practices), he has shown his work here and there while you were looking elsewhere (including across Canada and the US, in Mexico, Poland, Austria, Germany, and France). With Pierre-André Arcand, Christof Migone, and a few others, he founded Avatar, an audio artists-run centre in Quebec City.

Image credit: Installation image of Daniel Joliffe's and Jocelyn Robert's Ground Station at Surrey Art Gallery.