New in Lego: A Global Positioning System

A Global Positioning System

Here’s the latest of our Lego re-creations, made today to add to one of our first published pages: on Melanie Jackson’s (2006) digitally generated animation (and catalogue) A Global Positioning System. 

Here’s what it tries to illustrate:

A Global Positioning System 2006 deconstructs a hand held GPS unit, attempting to trace each component back to its source (Source: Anon 2006a, np).

The animated film charts the journey across the globe of the GPS unit, as a reverse journey from a promotional brochure selling the benefits of the handheld GPS to an urban western audience to the varied components of its production. Breaking down the GPS manufacturing workflow is made out of two movements: on one hand panning across the world, from the global centres of consumption into the factories in China and further afield into the mines of Congo or the rubber trees in Sri Lanka; and on the other hand, a zooming in process, going from the macro-scale of the global economy into the most intimate gestures of manual production and the microscopic components of the gps unit. Melanie presents this journey as a way of depicting the material process of production and challenges the disjunction that capitalism operates between things and their image. From images of miners working in the sandpits of Congo, she uses drawing as away to develop connections with the more abstract level of high tech glossy consumer technology. As the voice over narrates: this GPS contains materials that come from the following places: Guinea, China…India…Germany, England, Zambia…Brazil, Australia, Turkey, Nigeria, Spain, …Mexico, Chile, Philippines, USA, Argentina, Portugal, Japan, Korea…South Africa…Angola, Democratic Republic Of Congo, Namibia, Venezuela… (Source: Roush nd, np).

And here’s how the artist explains her combination of photography and drawn/animated figures (what we’re trying to re-create above in Lego – badly).

I am interested in what happens in documentary filmmaking when the lens is replaced by drawing. The ‘work’ of the film, the succession of mark making is evident, in the same way that the work involved in the manufacture of the product is made visible. We are always aware that it is an individual register that is bearing witness (of other individuals). Drawing admits that it is illusory, subjective and selective – yet it still holds the ability to tell a true story (Source: Jackson 2007, np).

This page was originally put together in 2011 and has now been updated with commentaries on this work published afterwards. You can find links to the original film and catalogue, and read what we found out about them here.

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