Heidi Rae Cooley

University of South Carolina

Geo-fences Otherwise: Some Thoughts towards an Interactive Koi Pond (A Virtual Reflection Pool Project)


I am interested in geo-fencing technologies and how they might serve purposes other than consumption.1 More specifically, I am interested in how they might cultivate a site-based/place-based “community of interpreters” (Charles Sander Peirce). I have begun to conceptualize a virtual reflection pool project, which will take the form of an interactive koi pond (possibly using submersible screen technology) with a companion mobile app that invites people to skin fish avatars that surface in the koi pond (e.g., as their persons near the site of the koi pond), form schools (e.g., as individuals declare affiliations with others or “discover” affiliations algorithmically), and recognize and interact with each other (e.g., affiliated persons gather, participate in like activities, and/or schedule to meet on site). [NOTE: the initial demonstration of the project’s potential and the technology’s functionality will be an interactive goldfish bowl (using holographic projection).] This presentation will describe the proposed project, report on initial investigations into various technologies, and provide an account of similar floor-based/virtual reflection pool projects. After which, it will be open for general discussion.

1. For example, geo-fencing technologies can sense that you are at Walmart, calculate that you have not purchased toothpaste in some time, and push to your touchscreen device a notification indicating that toothpaste is on sale and can be found in a particular aisle.


Heidi Rae Cooley is an Associate Professor of Media Arts in the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina, where she also holds a joint appointment in the Film and Media Studies Program. Her monograph Finding Augusta: Habits of Mobility and Governance in the Digital Era (2014) and its digital complement Augusta App won the 2015 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award. She is currently working on a second book, tentatively titled “You Are Here? Charles Sanders Peirce and the Vagaries of Location Awareness.