What’s the Deal with Self-Tracking?

20.03.2017 - 10:00 to 24.03.2017 - 16:00
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BFA 1st year
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Course leader: Michelle Teran

It seems like a day doesn't go by where I don't hear about some new self-tracking app or device. Do I honestly need to know where I am or what I'm eating every ding-dong day? Self-tracking, quantified self, lifelogging; you're certainly right that these buzzwords are everywhere right now. It seems like every app out there wants to know what you're doing and where you're doing it—and granted, that's something we really like about smartphones. But these things can be a little worrisome from a privacy standpoint, and it does seem like an awful lot of detail to be logging about your own life. What about being able to track someone's location using your iPhone secretly? How does tracking affect your sense of identity? Do you know that I know where your cat lives? Do you even care? What if I woke up one month later and wondered “Where the F**k was I”!? Beware, your imagination leaves digital traces.

This course explores different methodologies of self-tracking, using the most sophisticated self-tracking devices on the market, that is our smart phones. Within this workshop, we will be looking at the social and cultural phenomenon of self-tracking. Does it creep you out? Or do you find it a bit cool? Practically speaking, we will be going on walks, possibly a lot of walks, around Trondheim, with our smartphones. We will be recording and map our movements; we will discuss different ways of thinking about and using this data. How do artists work with location tracking? What does data say about us? How do we generate storylines? What do we learn from it? Who wants our data and why? We will have these discussions, but mostly we will be making stuff, doing hands-on experimentation with different tools and methods for tracking and visualization.

The course will run from 10am to 4pm each day.

Keywords: location tracking, self-tracking, digital shadows, life in the city, surveillance, artist as cartographers, storylines.


This course is geared towards MFA1 students who are committed to following the entire course of the program. Full attendance is mandatory and considered part of the final assessment. MFA2 and BFA students are also welcome to join but unable to receive study points for the course.


This course is conducted as an extended workshop. Students participating in the workshop will become familiar with various mapping and visualization tools and platforms. Students will work on a single assignment using some of the techniques and ideas introduced within the course. Students should become familiar with location tracking as a practice within the fields of digital art, literature, and activism. Students will be required to contribute two examples (artworks, news stories, technologies, etc.) relating to themes introduced during the course, which they will publish on the course blog.

Link to course blog

photo credit:I Know Where Your Cat Lives is a data experiment that visualizes a sample of 1 million public pics of cats on a world map, locating them by the latitude and longitude coordinates embedded in their metadata.

Postal address:
Kunstakademiet i Trondheim
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
N-7491 Trondheim

Visiting address:
Innherredsveien 7 (Industribygget)

Contact form
adm [at] kit.ntnu.no
Tel. +47 73 59 79 00
Fax. +47 73 59 79 20