Monday Night Drift: Volume 1, South Windsor

Armed with an algorithm from Sara, Michelle, Rosina, and I headed out on a walk on Monday night. We had decided at our last meeting to roam around some South Windsor neighbourhoods — seeing as we rarely get a chance to venture into that part of town — and we were surprised by how much familiarity we encountered.

For starters, we began the walk at the site of one of our first installations (not accidentally), but it was still incredible to be at that same spot nearly three years later.

Rosina and Michelle, bundled.

Along the way, we also took note of a variety of spatial activities — things that demarcate or suggest a curious use of the things around us.

The algorithm Sara gave us guided us through a series of things to find (these are documented at the end of the post), but we also improvised in finding other things. Above, the undulations of the chain link cage.

Michelle demonstrates of they’re made.

And, in an especially great moment, the remainders of that installation.

It was really incredible to take a moment and think about the morning we installed the project.

The algorithmic booklet in Rosina’s hands.

After crossing the overpass, Michelle and Rosina look at the neighbourhood.

We begin to document the space — above, a fair representation of the housing stock in the area.

Rosina marks the booklet — the first step, find a site of protest, and we select the installation site of our work.

Shortly after, at the base of the pedestrian ramp for the overpass, we find a portal — the next step. Rosina stakes out the portal, while Michelle heads back up the ramp to send messages.

Michelle sends messages through here.

Rosina listening.

The “portal”, up close. Rosina also reminisces about the area as a site for nearby high school students to congregate. Maybe these used these drainage tubes to send their own messages. Maybe we heard echoes.

We walk around, trying to imagine the construction of these huge spans of free-floating concrete.

We’re amazed in a way.

I was also curious if each light post has its own number, or if this is some kind of other demarcation.

Echoes of covered graffiti, essentially cemented over.

More housing stock, a friend’s place.

In trying to find the next step in our algorithm — a place to change — we all interpreted it as a place to change your clothes (perhaps we were all imagining being on some neighbourhood-wide capture the flag tournament, needing to further camouflage ourselves). We found this large tree.

And then another large tree — these would seem to make the perfect cover.

And then, just to be sure, Michelle suggested something in the streetscape she would like to change. Having biked along this road multiple times, she would love there to be a consistent bike lane.

Far int he other direction, there’s traces of just such a thing.

Then through the school yard at Holy Names.

On the search for something new.

Large tires.

We imagine it must be for giants doing army training.

And then we test ourselves.

Such vast space.

Neighbourhoods border the school.

We find something new in a new neighbourhood.

Then off to find a sanctuary.

At the edge of the parking lot, we wonder what might be in here. At its back corner, there’s some chairs, we consider this someone’s sanctuary.

Around the corner of another building…

…we find some very loose tags, and perhaps something leaking.

And then time.

Then back around to the school. Portables that have long since become permanent fixtures — notice the landscaping.

A break in between portables.

In looking for a place of play, we select an elementary school classroom.

Though we originally marked an interaction with some drivers on their evening commute as the conflict we had to find…

…perhaps this as a site of conflict, with the self ().


Rosina taking notes of our second to last step.

We’re east of Dominion at this point, and we continue to explore, beginning to wind our way back to the start.

A pocket of springtime activity.

A garage.

Traces of big bird via Michelle.

Crossing the second overpass as we head back, a really great detail of seemingly improvised repair.

A path that moves pedestrians between backyards and the EC Row retaining wall.

It zig zags to connect corners of south Windsor streets.

And then, a small view onto the EC Row.

Rosina peaks out.

We couldn’t figure out why this would have been designed into the wall — automotive glory hole. (*update: Thanks to Owen for letting us know its to bring fire hoses through the wall in the event of a big accident)

The view from the wall opening.

The path viewing all the way to Dominion from blocks away — made me wonder about how else to formalize shortcuts through in-between spaces.

Cross walk at Dominion, south of EC Row as we wrap up for the evening.

And then, the algorithm with Rosina’s notation.

Thanks to Sara for getting us lost. I’m looking forward to the next one of these. Maybe next week? Who’s in?

Reflections on Circulations

Last Wednesday I hosted an algorithmic walk around downtown Windsor with some University of Windsor Communications Studies and History grad students. The class, led by Drs. Mike Darroch and Rob Nelson, spent about an hour exploring the city, as per the algorithm, in an area between Park and Pelissier and McDougall and Tuscarora. Groups of three spread out throughout the area and stepped through the algorithm in a different order.

The algorithm connected with some readings the class had done on ideas of circulation. It was based on a series of simple suggestions to look for things that disrupt, capitalize, or imagine forms of circulation in the city. At each step in the algorithm, groups had to take a photograph. Below are some images from the walk.

Find an in-between space.

Find an example of urban improvisation.

Find a transaction.

Find a space to occupy.

Find something symbolic.

Dr. Darroch and some of this students on the walk.

Find  an in-between space.

Find something symbolic.

Find an example of urban improvisation.

Find a transaction.

Find a safe place.

Find the heart of the city.

I think this little 8-page booklet format could work well for our upcoming walks. I know we had talked about theming these walks. Any ideas for the first one on the 13th?


Circulation: an algorithmic walk in downtown Windsor with students from the University of Windsor

On Wednesday, February 1st, I’ll be guiding an algorithmic walk for Dr. Mike Darroch and Dr. Rob Nelson’s history / communication studies grad seminar. I spent part of the afternoon playing around with some ideas to have the instructions, or algorithms, distributed to the class.

We’ve done walks before, they’ve often been quite ambitious and sprawling. Given the two-hour time slot for the class, I’ve tried to keep this one short enough to finish it within an hour. The class did a range of readings on circulation in the city, so I’m hoping that these instructions will help frame some interesting ways to activate some of the larger ideas in the texts.

I started out with something I figured would be just a 1/4 sheet of 8.5″x11″ paper. Each group of students would start at a different number. I want the students to do the same things, just not all at the same time.

So, then I started thinking about those easy to make foldable books.  I can print off one template and just set the fold different ways to offset the starting instruction. I also decided to put a little fill-in-the-page-number-blank  and a few lines to note the location.

Each group will be instructed to take a photo once they find each of these places / things / situations. At the end, maybe we’ll be able to assemble them into a quick slideshow, or map or something to compare notes, so to speak.

We’ve been talking about doing some fairly regular drifts — maybe this is a good model to work from?

Conflux Day 3 – Algorithmic Subway Adventure Recap


Day 3 of our New York excursion and finally the day we’ve been waiting patiently for…the day of our Algorithmic Subway Adventure for ConfluxCity! In case you need a recap, The Algorithmic Subway Adventure was our attempt to psychogeographically explore, and engage with passengers of the New York City subway system.

We woke up fairly early to make all of the necessary preparations, as well as mentally ready ourselves for an eventful day. Danielle and Justin wrote out and edited the list of algorithmic steps that we finalized the night before, while Michelle and I grabbed breakfast for the four of us. We headed over to Kinkos for some quick photocopies and then headed onto a Subway and made our way to Union Square Station.

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How to Make a Randomly Assembled Text

php script from the Algorithmic Walk by Broken City Lab

Back at the end of March, we went on an Algorithmic Walk with some brave folks (who not only trusted in our custom software generated algorithm, but also ignored the weather). I had previously posted a link to where you could find a custom-assembled algorithm, should you be curious to try it on your own, but I also wanted to post the code, in case anyone has any need for generating  a randomly assembled text.

So, after the jump, there’s the PHP code for those interested. I’ve tried to make helpful comments throughout, and the text is sized to fit on an 8.5 x 11″ page if you want to print it out.

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Scavenge the City Recap

the algorithm

A week ago, on an incredibly cold, rainy, snowy evening, we headed out on an exploration of Windsor’s downtown guided by a randomly assembled algorithm for Scavenge The City. We only made it through the first 20 steps (we stopped checking them off though), plus a couple others we skipped to by the end, but for the two or three hours we were out, it was great to experience the city with new people in new ways.

To see the algorithm, you can view it randomly assembled, refresh it to see a new order.

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Scavenge The City

Scavenge the City: An Algorithmic Walk with Broken City Lab

SCAVENGE THE CITY: An Algorithmic Walk with Broken City Lab is happening on Sunday, March 29th at 6pm. Starting at Phog Lounge, we’ll be handing out a custom algorithm (a set of instructions), using a fancy computer program that we write, to take you and whomever you want to walk with, around the downtownish area of Windsor to discover, uncover, note, photograph, and invent. 

This isn’t a traditional scavenger hunt—we won’t be placing anything around the city for you to find—instead, the instructions will ask you to do specific things in less specific places, to try to encourage not just experiencing new places, but experience them in new ways.

The walk should wrap up by 10pm and then back at Phog we’ll share stories, videos, photographs, drawings, etc, of our adventures. Whether you’ve already come out to one of the previous hugely successful walking themed events in Windsor (Big Walk, or the Spacing Walk) or haven’t taken a stroll downtown in years, we would love to have you share on this adventure with us!!!

Algorithmic Walk

Algorithmic Walk for Border Culture

Last Thursday in Lee Rodney’s Border Culture class, we went out on an algorithmic walk to explore Wyandotte from Glengarry to Gladstone. The students were given the algorithm and map I made that you see above, but with varying order, and then sent out. As the goal was to have the students become familiar with the many grocery stores, restaurants, and commercial / architectural / commercial peculiarities of the area, the algorithm was based around specific instructions to guide them to pay closer attention to details through photographing, sketching, and noting, rather than an algorithm to guide them down different streets. 

I think the walk (and algorithm) went over pretty well. We’ll be looking at all the students documentation and hearing about their adventures this week in class (some students have already started posting on the Border Culture blog), but I think something like this on a larger scale would be another great addition to the ongoing walking series that have been led or initiated by Tom Lucier over the last few months. We’ve spoken about this before, but now we just need to set a date.