Mobile Misuse

Pattie Belle Hastings
Mobile Misuse: the creative use, abuse and misuse of mobile devices

mobile mediamobile projection






Mobile Misuse is a series of art/research projects that engage individuals in intimate personal performances that transcend, transgress or transform mobile disengagement from public experience.

Working Definitions

1: capable of moving or being moved : movable 2 a: changeable in appearance, mood, or purpose b: adaptable , versatile 3: migratory 4 a: characterized by the mixing of social groups b: having the opportunity for or undergoing a shift in status within the hierarchical social levels of a society 5: marked by the use of vehicles for transportation 6: of or relating to a mobile 7: cellular

1: to use incorrectly : misapply 2: abuse, mistreat


One of the goals of the project is to create engaging public interactive experiences involving mobile technologies with a focus on interactive experiences that can be replicated or modified in other locations. These will hopefully be examples of the limitless opportunities that exist to produce creative experiences that play with the liminal spaces between people and devices. Another goal of the project is to explore the dark side of these personal devices to which we turn over our lives without question. I am most interested at this point in the subjects of attention and distraction. There are also tangential outcomes that include conference presentations, mobile interaction course development, the revival of my own drawing practice, and various other fruits that have not quite ripened.

During the production phase of individual projects, I develop the most promising concepts from my sabbatical research and study phase. When I land on an idea worth pursuing, I script and diagram the production, create the visuals, and design the interaction. Once production has been completed, I rehearse the work and stage a test performance. If testing is successful I arrange for larger public presentations of the work. The entire process is being documented on websites and the research presented at workshops and conferences.During the 2008-09 academic year I collaborated with Andrew Morrison and was in residence as a Fulbright Scholar at InterMedia, University of Oslo, in order to manifest aspects of this project.
Research Location Background

Oslo was chosen as the location for the beginning of this project due to the fact that Scandinavians have adopted mobile phones in numbers beyond most other countries. Norwegians send tens of millions of text messages a day from a base population of approximately 4.5 million. They also use their phones for interactions with media and organizations, such as filing their tax returns via SMS (text messages) and communicating with television stations that broadcast their text messages and images. According to recent reports, about 90% of 10 year-old Norwegians have their own cell phone. The use of mobile technologies in the US lags far behind Europe and Scandinavia, which makes the research of advanced uses of these devices in other locations critically important to artists and designers in the US.
Oslo, Norway provided a central base for research into Norwegian and Scandinavian mobile practices. It is a hub for art and design activity and a hub for travel to other parts of Norway and Scandinavia (Bergen, Stavanger, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Malmø, etc.) making it easy to visit a broad spectrum of artists, designers and organizations.

Research Documentation

Mobile Misuse Research Blog

Roving Projection Experiment, Oslo, Norway, 3/08

Idea Sketches

Mobile Projection Unit

Data Forensics [in the landscape], workshop notes


Tactical Nomadic Storytelling, multimedia performance, Atelier Nord, Oslo, Norway, 3/09

iPod Drawings:

Electric Finger: an experiment in touch surface drawing

Our fingers are electric. They emit electromagnetic frequencies that allow us to interact with touch screen technologies. It's called "finger capacitance" and it's this conductive property of our fingers that makes capacitive touch sensing possible. Mobile devices, such as my iPod Touch, are designed to respond to the taps and caresses of my fingertips, providing access to necessary but mundane information or allowing for moments of unique creative exploration. For decades, it has been possible to draw with a computer using a mouse or stylus, but now we can carry electronic sketchbooks in our pockets with the tools for mark making at the ends of our arms.

TRACEY: Drawing and Visual Research
, Loughborough University School of Art & Design, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK, 12/10


“Mobile Misuse: the artistic subversion of mobile technologies in the creation of book-like experiences,” The Hybrid Book Conference, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, 6/6/09.

“Mobile Misuse,” Fulbright-Norway, Research Seminar, Oslo, Norway, 2/12/09.

“Smart Mobs and Mobile Media Workshop,” Designed and conducted a three-day hands-on workshop for undergraduate students in the Media and Journalism program at Volda University College, Volda, Norway, 1/09.

“The Mobile Manifesto: a work in process,” Research by Design, An AHO Research Seminar, The Oslo School of Architecture and Design, 12/4/08.


The Mobile Misuse project was supported in part by a Fulbright Scholar grant, an American-Scandinavian Foundation grant, an Artists’ Residency at Atelier Nord, and by a Quinnipiac University research sabbatical.

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