When it was discovered last year that devices made by Apple and others were recording location data gleaned from GPS and Wi-Fi signals, plenty of privacy advocates and smartphone owners made a ruckus. Data artist and Eyebeam resident Brian House, on the other hand, decided to make music. His Quotidian Record is a kind of sonic travelogue, using the location data logged by his phone to inscribe a full year of his life as a tangible musical artifact.
House says he used OpenPaths, a secure cache for storing location data that he helped develop, to arbitrarily map harmonic relationships to the various locations he frequented throughout the year. His Brooklyn apartment, for example, is represented in the key of C, while key changes indicate movement to other cities and locations.
A circular clock printed on the inner ring of the record indicates that each rotation represents a full 24 hours, and the results make for surprisingly enjoyable listening. "The harmonies I chose actually relate to traditional counterpoint, which I was studying while writing it," says House. He considers himself a "bricoleur" — an artist who makes due with the tools and materials most readily available to them — explaining that he generated the sound using guitar pedals and the open-source Meeblip synth, and wrote all of the code in Python. The excerpt above tracks around 51 days of House's movements, between early December of 2011 and mid-January of 2012.
The Quotidian Record currently exists as a limited edition of 10, but House says he's considering taking on commissions to produce unique records based on the location data of others. Along with other open studio projects, like Heather Dewey-Hagborg's Stranger Visions and Zach Gage's new Chatroulette installation, a listening station for the record is set up now through the end of the month at the Eyebeam technology center in New York City.