The Art Of Running
by Perry Michael Simon on August 22, 2011
How do you turn people’s daily runs and a sporting goods company’s commercial desires into something sort of arty? Nike and interactive artist collective YesYesNo created this project using the Nike+ GPS thing in runner’s shoes. They tracked the paths of a year’s worth of runner’s daily courses in New York, Tokyo, and London.
Here’s a video that shows the process and result:
The example depicts runs all over Manhattan and across into Brooklyn, too. The runs show up as light streaks (adjusted based on the runner’s style and consistency) and form an animated map of runs showing, for example, wide bright streaks along the main road and reservoir path in Central Park, a long string of light along the East River, lines across the bridge into Brooklyn… basically, a recognizable map of the city based on where people run. Nike made prints of the maps for participants and made custom shoe boxes with individual runners’ names and their run maps, and installed the video in retail stores.
But they also collected all sorts of data, and there are good and bad things one could do with that. The good is that they could analyze running data to see when and where people go, perhaps planning traffic changes (for example, the times Central Park’s roads are opened and closed to vehicles) or running/hiking/biking trails where there’s a need. The bad is that someone’s tracking where you’re going, and when. If you avoid things like Foursquare because you don’t want your movements tracked, you probably wouldn’t want a trackable GPS in your shoe. (On the other hand, you’re probably carrying a cell phone anyway, aren’t you?)
I run — “plod” is more accurate — every day. My “map” would show one big back-and-forth streak on one road. I don’t need Nike to tell me that.