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Virtual road trip to make a stop on campus

By Costa Maragos Posted: November 7, 2016 2:30 p.m.

Megan Smith, assistant professor in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance, in her studio and all set for her Riding Through Walls Performance - From Moose Jaw to Regina using Google Street View.
Megan Smith, assistant professor in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance, in her studio and all set for her Riding Through Walls Performance - From Moose Jaw to Regina using Google Street View. Photo: External Relations

Megan Smith is finally coming home, virtually speaking.

Smith is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance. She’s been on a cross-country bike tour, which started on Vancouver Island months ago. She’s navigated through the busy streets of Vancouver, the Rockies and now the open prairies, while on a stationary bike.

Smith is travelling using Google Street View as part of her research project called “Riding Through Walls.”

However, Smith will mark a milestone, Tuesday, November 8. Starting at noon, Smith will depart from Moose Jaw and arrive in Regina between 3:30 pm and 4 pm. The public is invited for a ride-a-long at her studio, room 157 at the Riddell Centre.

“This whole project is a durational performance but I’m opening the doors up for the public to come and take part,” says Smith. “This is an accomplishment for me because I’m arriving here physically into my studio as well as virtually having set off from Dallas Road in Victoria, B.C., many months ago.”

“It feels like a great moment for me in particular because coming to a community of people who have been supporting this project for many months. I can open the doors and show the research community, faculty, staff and students what is going on with this research.”

The stationary bike is synched in such a way that as Smith cycles she moves along roads and highways using Google Maps.

The trip is being live-streamed and documented through storytelling and social media. Photos are taken along the way. Smith interacts with people using a Google Glass headset and encourages people to join along the way.

“I’m getting a lot of engagement through social media about the project. People are connecting regarding their love for particular sites. A lot of people have asked me to go past certain sites,” says Smith.

Her trip to Regina is an open studio performance, and Smith is encouraging people to drop by and take part. The Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies has donated three stationary bikes and people are encouraged to sign up to ride along with Smith.

This research project is inclusive. The second part of this project includes Smith sharing her research so people at home can go on their own virtual trips and do it at a reasonable cost.

“Everything will be released as open source code and there will be tutorials on how to build this project on your own” says Smith whose project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the University of Regina’s President’s Fund. “If you have a stationary bike and a computer you can build this project for about $40 and then you can cycle through routes you would want to see yourself. Anywhere that Google Street view has been.”

Smith’s research is getting attention. She’s one of a handful of selected artists to present at the Parson’s School of Design in New York, November 17. But that’s something for down the road, so to speak.

For now, Smith is focussed on getting to the studio on time, where she will be greeted by her supporters – but this time in person.
 
Event:     Moose Jaw to Regina – Riding Through Walls Performance
Date:      Tuesday, November 8
Time:      Noon to 6 p.m.
Location: Room 157 – Riddell Centre

Drop by for a spin.