- Mobile Performance
- Electric Speed
- Schematic as Score
- (Re)purposed Clothes
- Collaborative Spaces
- Device Art
- Digital Dub
- Rise of the VJ
- Sample Culture
This article describes my current project Peripato Telematikos, an experiment in subjective cartography and public authoring, drawing influences from performance studies and art.
'[T]here is a cresting wave, and it awaits skilled surfers' - Cosgrove, 2006
This is a quote from a 2006 special issues of Cartographic Perspectives (the journal of the North American Cartographic Information Society) on art and maps. The special issue gives a good summary of the current intersections of art and maps and notes its prevalence but also signifies the importance of the work being conducted in these intersecting fields. It also asks why this might be happening.
Map making has a long and complex political, social and cultural history. Maps have long been used by controlling powers as a means of consolidating their power. The mapmaker controls the territory that is being mapped, and attempts to represent with a "totalising eye" as de Certeau (1984) asserts in The Practice of Everyday Life. But maps can no longer satisfy the needs of representation in an increasingly complex and ever-changing world. Representations of the world rapidly become obsolete and inaccurate. But what is needed? Can a map incorporate time? How do we avoid creating representations that encompass all that is problematic with traditional map making?
What is emerging is that maps are not being used to represent reality but to construct reality through the interventions of people.
As Deleuze (1988) says, a map is "an abstract machine. It is a machine that is almost blind and mute, even though it makes others see and speak" (34). The map is a machine oriented towards experimentation with the real. It is "abstract" because the map in no way represents what is actual and determined, but instead offers a field of potential space, an array of potential uses of the actual. It is a "machine" because of its ability to bring heterogenous elements of a system into connection with one another. The map is software in this sense. (Kanarinka, 2006) p25
I will concentrate on the part of the work that is situated in relation to urban experience. Two strands emerged during the development of this project: collective and personal subjective mappings. The collective mappings (collective artistic praxis as defined by Kwon) are created with a group of participants, each armed with a simple mobile phone and a route to walk. The personal mappings are created by a single walker, thus far me (but I am hoping that others will be involved).
As the participants undergo their staged walks, images (predominantly, although the system has always supported text messages and can now accept video and sound as well) are taken with a standard mobile phone and transmitted immediately to the website. Anyone viewing the website during the walks would witness an emerging montage of media elements as entries from the participants are received by the system. The subjective mappings emerge in real-time (minus network delays of course). The layout of these media elements is undefined as there is no default layout algorithm. The viewers of the mappings can manipulate the content to create their own rendition of the mapping, although these changes cannot be made permanent unless an access password is used. The participants themselves can also manipulate the layout and in most situations can make this layout permanent. The intent is to create a live mapping that is mutable, as conventional maps are fixed in time and cannot accommodate changes over time.
The collective mappings have been created in a number of "controlled" environments: gallery exhibition and workshop (eg Townsville), conferences (eg Create World) and festivals (eg Adelaide Fringe Festival). Thematically they are open and this has been intentionally left to the participants, although in hindsight I feel that more work needs to be done in this area.
The individual mappings are more focused thematically. My initial walks (eg Darebin ROWs - Right of Ways) emerged from researching my local environs. Right of Ways criss-cross most Australian older suburbs. They are lane ways and other in between or interstitial urban spaces. It came to my attention that many of these Right of Ways were being put up for sale. So in effect, this public space is disappearing, being absorbed into the surrounding private spaces. In the past these ROWs served many functions including sanitation, delivery of household provisions and waste disposal. What intrigued me most was that many of these ROWs where once natural waterways which had been concreted and in most instances covered over so that no trace of the original waterway could be seen. I chose to focus on the ROWs that had once been waterways, following their routes from the highest point to where the waterway was once again visible entering a major creek or river. This will be an ongoing mapping but has been stalled temporarily as other more pressing matters are dealt with.
The other major individual mappings took place on the island of Lesvos, my parents birthplace. These mappings have yet to be published.