GPS Drawing [Gallery] [Maps] [Info]

The Permissible Edge Mapped with GPS / The Photographs
A map of the tolerated edges of the Nieuwe Maas distributary that flows through the city of Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Exhibited at Showroom MAMA, Witte de Withstraat 29-31, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 18th June- 7th August 2011

The Permissible Edge GPS map of the Nieuwe Mass was printed and exhibited at 1:20 000 scale [1:50 000 scale print]
The map is composed of 125 km of cycled GPS tracks that snuggle along a heavily engineered route of public and private perimeters

The river on the map does not move.
It doesn’t swirl, bubble or gargle.
It has no flow, no slip no slide.

The way of the river is dammed by the edges of the map.
It doesn’t swell during a flood or diminish throughout a drought.
There is no rush nor race, the current stopped.
Nothing passes. Nothing crosses.

We find the river on the map.
It’s the solid line that flattens the ripples.
All the shimmering reflections are reduced to a single blue.
We can’t hear it, see it, or smell it, and it’s not wet.


The journey began by borrowing a spare bicycle from the Witte de With centre for contemporary art for which I was very grateful indeed. It was a little rusty but very solid, was just a bit too small for me, and had one gear and a tired back-peddling brake. With no brake levers on the handle bars I was free to steer the cycle whilst holding an object in each hand, like a GPS receiver or a map, a camera, a sandwich or a drink...I could hold at least two or three object at any one time. However, I think that by gorilla gripping my fingers for hours on end accounts for the numbness I'm still experiencing a week later in the last two fingers of my left hand.


The average Dutch bicycle performs much like an old American station wagon that rattles and squeaks even on the smoothest of surfaces. They operate at a mature pace with a heavy rolling resistance and have a sloppy transmission that makes for muddy traffic. Cycling is imbedded into the culture of the city and its network flows independently of the roads and share similar semiotics and privileges. I was particularly struck by noticing that the width of the cycle lane that ran past a shop was just right to snugly fit a delivery truck, and by the dedicated cycle lanes for the tunnels and bridges crossing the river.

Nieuwe Maas

The Photographs

Commissioned by Martijn van Dijk for ‘Land Art for a New Generation', a collaboration between the Kunstverein in Hamburg and Showroom Mama in Rotterdam

jeremy wood 2011