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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Kayla Reopelle at 4:30PM   |  6 comments
Following the initial route for our Indeterminate Hike

Blog posting by Kayla Reopelle, Documentary Studies and Production '14, FLEFF Blogger, Roy, WA


Flakes of snow melted in layers on the screen of my iPhone. 


I tried to absorb the moisture with my smart-gloves, but blurred the map guiding myself and four other FLEFF Bloggers and Interns on an Indeterminate Hike.


Indeterminate Hikes+ is an app for Android and iPhone created by Ecoarttech, an environmental new-media collective. 


A few weeks ago, the blogging class Skyped with Leila Nadir, co-founder of ecoarttech. Her ideas of renegotiating space, expanding definitions of nature, and blurring the lines between the urban and the wild encouraged us to explore Ithaca through the lens of an Indeterminate Hike.


Despite the cold, we met in front of the Tompkins County Library on Sunday March 23 at 1:00 pm. 


We had four points of engagements as we walked around the edges of the Commons. 


Each engagement required a text or photo which were included in the field notes for the hike. The hike had to be reset part of the way through because of a small glitch, but we ended up recording information for four tasks:

  1. Look for a flying machine full of people going a great distance across the sky above you. Imagine where these people are going. Text simply the name of that place to a friend and nothing else.
  2. Laugh out loud even if it is a fake laugh. Sometimes fake laughs become real laughs. Passersby might not be able to discern the difference and might laugh too. Take a picture of laugher.
  3. Listen to the sun or the moon. Text a friend and tell her what you hear.
  4. Take 25 steps while smiling widely as possible. Take a picture of the social impact of your environmental action. 

The required technological mediation of our engagement was unexpected.


It brought in people who were not present during the hike into the sphere of the hike’s influence through the reception of observations without context via text message. Proof of sending each text message and taking each picture was required before moving on to the text task.


This hike revealed the layers of action occurring simultaneously in any moment of any environment. I had not considered that the sun makes sound, that smiling and laughing shifts moods of a space, or the vertical layers of transportation which occur at any given moment. 


The route was laid out on my phone, which took me out of my environment. My eyes were glued to the screen instead of glancing around the space I was in. I did not look at my embodied environment, but focused on the virtual environment in the palm of my hand.


Despite the technological distraction, we were taken into new spaces of the Commons that I had not visited before. One location was the Ithaca Conservatory of Music building, the predecessor to our school on the hill.


Our Indeterminate Hike transformed what could have been a pleasant stroll on a chilly day into an opportunity to discuss the nature of space.




Leila Nadir and Cary Peppermint, co-founders of ecoarttech, will be speaking at FLEFF for the panel on Dissonant Environments on Wednesday April 2 at 7:00pm in Hill 104 and will be running a workshop on Thursday April 3 at 2:35 in the Park Auditorium.




This hike forced me to pay attention to and notice things I walk by every day, but had never seen before. It was definitely very cold out there yesterday, but it was worth it.

I regret being unable to participate in the Indeterminate Hike! I plan on downloading the app and trying it out for myself. The idea of using one's phone to interact with the space around him or her, which seems contradictory, is infinitely intriguing to me.

I've always worked very hard to stay present, and that to me has meant being mindful of my surroundings... what an interesting idea to redefine the boundaries of one's environment and rather pay attention to less conventional aspects of a space.

Molly, I went on the hike as well, and it was definitely interesting to use my cell phone to engage in my surroundings. When we Skyped with Ms. Nadir, she introduced the popular notion of nature as an overwhelmingly sacred force. It felt very revolutionary to be using technology as a means to explore and reflect on nature.

I can really resonate with your comments. I really encourage everyone to try this app, perhaps even before Nadir and Peppermint come to the festival. Using your smartphone as a means to connect to your environment transformed my relationship to the tool. Smartphones don't need to remain technologies that separate users from what's going on in front of them, but can function as a connection to the embodied world.

This really was a great experience. It forced me to stop and notice things I would normally ignore. I walked pass DeWitt Park every week but had never stopped to notice the Boardman House. We are living in a world that's rapidly changing every day. Our lives are fast-paced; even in a small town like Ithaca, there are so many things that we choose to ignore in our everyday routine. It was also a fun group activity. As we walked, talked, and laughed together, even the snow didn't seem that bad at all.

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