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Bowville Fictitious Constituency
Written and directed: Paula Roush
Wireless network: Peter Chauncy
Web design and wireless video: Yew-sun
Marion and investigators: Paula Roush, Hattie Spires,
Claire Hooper
Surveillance imagery: Arzu Altin

Paula Roush
mobile strategies of display & mediation
94A Southwell Road
London SE5 9PG
United Kingdom

Bowville is a durational performance, a three-day live event involving three female performers in an interactive social game of surveillance, identity and locative media. Starring Marion Manesta Forrester, the script is based on a fictional character, her identity a partial homage to the suffragettes- the first women to undergo photographic surveillance, a partial reaction to the announcement of electronic tagging for asylum seekers in the UK, and a cinematic reference to Lars Von Triers' Dogville.

Marion Manesta Forrester is electronically tagged.
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For three days, Marion was electronically tagged and had to earn her citizenship to Bowville. Voting could be done in person at the Bureau, by phone and online, through the dedicated website. The play took place in three sites: the streets of Bowville, the Bowville Investigation Bureau and the project’s URL: http://www.bowville.net

There were three roles: Marion Manesta Forrester and the two investigators. During the three-day performance, the players took turns to play them. Marion was in the streets wearing the GPS electronic monitoring device - the tag that had the form of a necklace and contained the mobile signal sender, which sent via GPS and over a wireless network her precise street location to the Bureau.


Marion Manesta Forrester is electronically tagged.
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  The investigators were in the Bowville Investigation Bureau, the game's headquarters. The first investigator constantly followed Marion's traces on a digital map of Bowville (screen-based locative map). As the evidence of the street location was assembled, it was simultaneously printed out and shredded. The second investigator meticulously reassembled the disposed evidence on a large table where the shredded maps were collaged to recreate the robot portrait of Marion's face.    

Bowville's interactive aspect derives some of its energy from the rapidly expanding area of personal location/ wireless intelligent mobile/ wearable locative devices. Space Media Arts five artists’ commissions – including Bowville - examined the potential of WLAN networks, at a time of increased wireless use and availability.


Bow wireless was set up to include and anticipate a wireless network for Roman Road. Peter Chauncy is the wireless specialist who built with inexpensive off-the-shelf components the community wireless network based on IEEE 802.11b WiFi standards. Nodes or relay transmitters were sited on lamp posts along the street market and the network was accessible to anyone who had a wireless card in their computer and was in the vicinity of the market place.

For Bowville, Peter also built with off-the-shelf components a device emulating the Homeland Security Technology Corporation's Personnel Tactical Location Device (PTLD). A tracker - a scalable and open architecture server system – communicating via wireless with the wearable, permitted to locate, track and manage Marion at all times.

An application software communicated with the tracker and the location of Marion was displayed on a vector map, providing a visual notation of her movements in the prescribed area. The real-time tracking allowed Marion to be located anytime over the Internet. This was not however the most reliable component so we used other resources to involve the community in the decision process. As such a dedicated phone line complemented the online voting form and the street level bureau was a constant site for visitors to drop in, to vote and discuss the project.


Artist Biography

Paula Roush
Paula Roush is the founder of msdm, a research-practice dedicated to mobile strategies of display and mediation. msdm projects explore media in context, including electronic tagging, locative media, games, bots, radio FM, para-architecture and urban screens, with an interest in collaborative experiments, free culture and open source.

Commissions for public space include: Sos:ok - save our souls zero killings - an emergency biscuit developed for situations of food scarcity real or imagined (Coleman project space, London 2004) and Bowville, a networked performance during which Marion Manesta Forrester was electronically tagged and had three days to earn her citizenship to Bowville, Bow festival London 2004. Paula graduated with a Ph.D from the South London Gallery for her participation in Perfectly Placed, London 2004 and has collaborated in many collective exhibitions including: Global tour (w139, Amsterdam), Public services (Pavel haus, Laafeld, 2005), Disobedience, Play gallery and Kunstraum Bethanien 2005, Meeting point, Centro de arte moderna JAP, Lisboa 2004, The art of survival, Prague biennale 2003, Europe cc. changing cities 05, Haus der architektur Graz 2002, Urban detours, Bauhaus Dessau 2001, City stripping GAK Bremen 2001, Polyphony, Living art museum Reykjavik 2001. Current projects are: ‘Tagged’ (a hands-on rfid workshop, space media arts/ node London 2006), Give(a)way: the art of unconditional generosity, (Ev+a, Limerick 2006).

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