The Pedalographer

An analytic mapping instrument. A flexible device for free-form visual discovery. The Pedalographer is a playful tool for modifying and layering information over visual mapping data akin to the way a guitar pedal does so for audio data. Developed in part with film “The Egg’s Beirut” in 2018, it is a part of a larger proposal for more responsive and improvisational analytic mapping techniques which are looser in their interactivity than the GIS workflows institutionalized today. Combining the affordances of micro-controllers, VHS cassette tapes, VCRs, CRT monitors, and historical maps, The Pedalographer reintroduces time, tactility, and spontaneity into mapping exercises.

The Pedalographer is a fairly simple open-source project built largely on top of the shoulders of Arduino TV-Out library, the Nootropic Design Video Experimenter and Enhanced TV-Out library.

For those looking to develop their own, the Arduino .ino is located here

Housed within are all the components necessary to analyze data in three distinct ways:

  1. Based on brightness/density (left column: “Wand”- “ENTER” - “FCTN”)

  2. Based on threshold (center column: “On-Off-On” - “Dial” - “ALPHA LOCK”)

  3. Based on location/position (right column: “Stick” - “FCTN”)

Each mode should be considered a different lens through which to understand and explore the currently displayed map. Relative and qualitative in their nature, they should be thought of as speculative means of drawing/provoking conclusions as opposed to prescribing them.

As a stand-alone device, the Pedalographer can be transported between work/play areas with ease. The robust body can be placed on a flat surface like a desk as if it were a part of your tabletop. The modular nature of the system offers huge room for customization, improvement, and modification. With each component in the chain - VHS - VCR - Pedalographer - Monitor/Display - contributing uniquely to the overall system, limitless permutations of the Pedalographic ecosystem exist.