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In the shadow of the cell-phone

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

  • Department of Aesthetic Studies
  • Center for Digital Urban Living
  • Digital Design
  • Digital Aesthetics Research Centre
Based on discussions of hybrid space as well as the concepts of the database and archive art, the paper analyzes Hasan Elahi’s project “Tracking Transience” (2003-) and relates it to Sophie Calle’s performance “Detective” (1980) while discussing how we can understand the mobile phone as a device that is capable of creating a ‘database shadow’ of the mobile phone owner. Elahi created “Tracking Transience” after he was held back by the FBI in 2003 on suspicion of being a possible terrorist; by consulting the website trackingtransience.net everyone now has access to the data generated by Elahi and his mobile phone, which meticulously tracks his life. However, even though Elahi’s life seems to be thoroughly and intimately documented with pictures of e.g. every eaten meal and every visited restroom, we are clearly not getting the full picture. Consequently, despite having been granted access to an enormous amount of data, we are left with a feeling of following a shadow or maybe a mirage. This paper explores how the mobile phone affords this playing hide-and-seek, and the way that it provides shelter from the inspecting eye
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Digital Arts and Culture Conference, 2009 : after media: embodiment and context
EditorsSimon Penny
Number of pages6
PublishereScholarship, UC Press
Publication year2009
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventDAC - Digital Arts and Culture 2009 - Irvine, Los Angeles, United States
Duration: 12 Dec 200915 Dec 2009
Conference number: 8


ConferenceDAC - Digital Arts and Culture 2009
LandUnited States
ByIrvine, Los Angeles

Bibliographical note


    Research areas

  • mobile media, digital art, digital aesthetics, GPS

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