Tag Archives: mapping the invisible

Conference Project: Silence and Whistles

IMG_1097 When I worked on the initial map where I was hoping to use music that I had created over a period of time to create a landscape where life events could be read in terms of topographic data. In a way this was a response to a lecture given here as part of the science lectures series a year ago given by Dr. Patrick Muchmore where he called the composer “an explorer of abstract landscapes.” In thinking about this concept I wanted to combine a way of presenting non-musical meanings visually that could be used as interpretations both for non abstract events and abstract musical events. Not reaching a satisfactory exploration of this concept I scraped my work and instead put together a less personal piece focusing on genealogy. Not doing the initial project made me think a lot about what kind of symbols exit in music, if any at all, and if there is a difference between “real” performed music and “virtual” – or “actualized” music that exists in a realized form of notation or thought but not in sound. The concept of whether the beauty or meaning of music exists only in a syntactical form of mathematical relationships that produce certain tones, or if it is contained in a system of semiotics either made clear to a listener through titles and program notes or even biographical information about the creator. In my map I presented a land mass that is covered mostly by musical staves, often distorted to run the island, the southmost tip contained musical quotations. The four corners contain all the non-quotation elements in the map – described in not musical or ambiguous terms. The mark for silence is given “This is the task”. The fermata for holding a note is listed as “Until”. The dominant symbols combine to form, in terms of musical instruction, the meaning of “Hold this Silence indefinitely very loudly”. To me this motif serves as a biographic text – as for most of my life I was forbidden to practice a musically informed life. Shadows of bombers are placed across the islands – once printed I applied torn out strips of my own composition over these shadows – making them hostile elements against the message of the landmass. I was inspired by the Icelandic invasion map that was show by our visiting cartographer. As I sought to find a meaningful connection from the history of cartography. Using the layers of printed I wanted convey the different levels that a work can exist at – both at the silent and conveyed and the expressed and internalized by listeners – and perhaps also viewers. IMG_1098

Conference Project Final : Mapping my Freelance Network in Media Production

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 11.44.40 AM For my conference, I created a visual representation of my own network in freelance film production. I traced the outlines of Brooklyn and Manhattan to show where these films/commericals were produced, and I aligned them in chronological order (going clockwise), starting with Pillsbury, which I worked on in 2011. All of my personal contacts are on this map, organized by the jobs on which I met them. Every contact has a different color, and there is a line for everytime I worked with them. So, for example, Paula Cohen has seven lines, but Rachel Taylor only has two. Dave Clark has three lines but because I’m not very close with him, I made his line thinner. I only worked with Donna Imbarato twice, but I became very close with her so I made her lines hot pink so as to be noticed. Ultimately, this is a map of the invisible because it’s a map of where I stand in my work environment . I haven’t made much of anything, so my network is everything. I act as a flaneur (or maybe as a stalker) by keeping up with these people on linkedin and facebook. They don’t know the extent to which I watch them. But what often happens is that they change companies, or start new businesses on their own, and that’s when I reach out. I’ll ask if they remember me from ____ ______ and ________, and I’ll ask if they could use someone with my skillset to help them get started on their new endeavor.   Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 11.56.36 AMScreen Shot 2015-05-14 at 11.51.59 AM

Conference Project: Manderley Map

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.26.02 AM Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.27.38 AM My conference project slowly seemed to design itself, as it became layered with meaning and markings over the time. I was always fairly confident that I wanted the project to be framed around the book Rebecca- the book is written in a way that provides keep imagery as to the house of the setting- Manderley. I went through the book, tracing the way in which Manderley is detailed, and created a floor plan based upon this. I wanted to give my floor plan a Victorian feel, and did so by including molding and mirroring the architectural styles of the time. I also wanted to use the furniture described in the book, and so I included the pieces into my surface area (the floor plan). I really wanted to tap into the way in which the novel taps into the concept of “invisible” presences, and so I used color to show the presences of Rebecca and Max in Manderley. The narrator of Rebecca seems to constantly feel their presences as she passes her time in the house, and so I tried to display how she spent her time when alone, dwelling in a house that could never feel like her own. In order to show the difference between “time” and “presence” I used different materials. The narrator’s morning (when she is alone in Manderley) is displayed by thick white thread, to characterize her personality of simplicity. The white thread juxtaposes with the strong Victorian colors used for Max and Rebecca; Max is shown in a green watercolor, whereas Rebecca is a deep pinkish-red. Rebecca’s color, I find, is a rather amusing story, in that I was very particular about finding the exact color, and, unable to create the perfect shade with my watercolor palate, I found that the joys of a “Kool-Aid Drink Mix” of fruit punch perfectly solved my conundrum. The map was inspired by Victorian blue prints, but the particular style was very much developed in awe of the highly detailed illustrations of Korky Paul (a children’s book illustrator). I’ve included a picture of the house that Korky Paul drew in my post (top image).

Conference Project: Graffiti Conversations @ SLC

My conference project took a few turns as I searched for written messages to map throughout the SLC Campus. I took pictures of most of the campus, and found that the places with the most graffiti were either bathroom stalls, or desks at the library. There were many messages of different kinds – band names, existential statements, people being mean, but I realized after a while that the library had something special going on that made it very interesting: people would write things, and other people would reply to those things, and at times I would see 3 or 4 generations of messages on one desk. I realized that I wanted to not only map graffiti to its location on campus, but I also wanted to find a way to map out these conversations as they seemed to have played out. I wanted to document these frozen conversations, because I think they are an interesting slice of human nature. Every message on my map has been transcribed from photographs I took while sweeping the campus. I used purple lines to indicate a message’s location. The purple lines were set by placing a map of SLC that I had previously made underneath, and then mapping ontop of it. I later removed the map because I was hoping to emphasize location less and the text more – still, the fact that many of these messages came from the same relative location was important to include. 20150510_204641graffiti_mapdetailgraffiti_detail1 Documented Photos | Map Overlay | Map Detail 1 | Map Detail 2 I tried to do as much documenting as possible and to let the graffiti speak for itself. The messages in blue are statements and the text in red are replies. There are red lines with arrows indicating the flow of conversation, i.e., the target of the reply. There are 2 messages in red which had no observable target where they were written, and yet, they both seem to be replies to the general conversation and I felt that they needed to be in red because they were definitely addressing somebody (or somebodies). I used my sketchbook to work out my connection system. I was inspired by Dennis Wood’s Graffiti Maps in Everything Sings, and I was also inspired by Pollock, Cameron Booth’s NYC Subway Maps, and Marc Lombardi’s maps. transit-highways wood_es_graffiti_detail04-Mark-Lombardisketch_detail NYC Subway Map | Dennis Wood’s Map | Marc Lombardi | Sketchbook Detail

Self-Portrait: Self-Planet Map

screen-shot-2015-03-03-at-3-31-02-pm My planetary self portrait isn’t looking so barren anymore.  It’s now more of a goofy collage than anything else, but progress is progress.  One thing that could be tweaked, in addition to the rough edges on the photo clippings and the opacity of the background, is the link between signage and connector.  As a whole.  It’s got to be more cohesive.  The tone of this little environment isn’t going to change much, and there are about a thousand more images that I’m figuring out how to incorporate.  But regarding the analog clock system that birthed this whole project, that could be communicated much more effectively.  The idea was that as you move clockwise from the orange line, the planet transitions from bright, warm childhood imagery (influenced by the secret Caribbean half of my genes and all my abuelita’s weird Santeria mysticism) to something much darker, colder (in every sense of the word) and more horror-influenced.  I’m trying to communicate that I don’t feel any better off for having sat through sixteen years of school, and that my mind was a more pleasant place to reside in back when it wasn’t so restless and cluttered.  Really, this is my rendition of the ‘never grow up’ song from Peter Pan; adulthood is looming, and that’s a scary thing.  My map should reflect this by illustrating a clearer and more dramatic progression from Tropics to Gothics.  This is my goal for the remainder of the project. For now, though, I’ll give a little tour of the planet in its current form.  The surface of the planet is just that, a surface.  Starting from the orange line, or from the umbilical cord stretching across the Hudson River if you like, life is simple and pure.  A bouncyhouse and a pedaled go-kart.  By fifth grade, school was no longer inflatable or fun; it was a stone prison.  But the warm vibes of childhood were still half-present, at least.  Along the yellow path to that stone prison are the man and the goat that I photographed back in high school, on the side of a road somewhere in Cuba.  Other notable residents of the yellow region include Oshun (who’s basically the Afro-Caribbean Virgin Mary variant), and some nude ladies being baptized in the water (to signify first contact with the metaphysical, as well as the bodily revelations of the middle-schooler).  The region between the yellow and green lines is home to the lonesome little boy staring into space, and another Santeria deity named Eleggua, god of crossroads and something to do with divine contact through drumming, if I recall correctly.  All quite appropriate for my early days of drumming and terrifying uncertainty. By the time high school rolls around (green line), it’s clear that the stone prison and all its stipulations are totally illusory.  But you’re still bound to them, sort of by law, and you’re constantly being monitored.  I chose to express this by attaching two guard towers to a guard tower, despite there being no actual prison.  This is all happening on the colder side of the planet now, and it’s all watched over by Danu, Celtic Mother Goddess, to offset Oshun’s presence on the opposite side, The purple line to college runs across the Hudson River, past the black-cloaked Washington Heights Gatekeepers, past mom’s old apartment, past dad’s old apartment and the big evil mountain which I suppose is the Bronx.  It ends at the north pole.  Sarah Lawrence is in many ways less structured than the endpoints of the other three lines, so there is no structure.  There is only a moping gargoyle with a bird growing out of his back, and some cigarette butts and a sad lady from an old painting.  I do intend to build more on the north pole, as well as on the rest of the planet, and then maybe something on the water.  I appreciated everyone’s input today.

Conference: A Map of Illicit Flows

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On the “draw anything” part of the interview worksheet for this class, I remember drawing a very offhanded illustration of how I saw the process of money laundering. It’s pretty weird, I know, but for the past year or so the bulk of my research has been on corruption and tax evasion, and these phenomena just happen to be on my mind for an inordinate amount of time. In retrospect, I suppose this is why I ended up taking this class in the first place. I think corruption is the perfect ‘invisible’ to map because it’s so prelavent and impacts us all;. visualizing spatial connections between these things reveals patterns we wouldn’t have easily identified otherwise. On that first sketch, I visualized money laundering as a skein of flows dipping under the surface and popping back out elsewhere, in a different form.
For conference, I wanted to map flows of tax evasion and highlight its cyclical nature in a globalized world. Now, there are a bunch of different forms/methods of tax avoidance that one could map, but for simplicity I chose to map offshore balances of the top 10 or so Fortune 500 companies in various ‘tax haven’ subsidiaries around the world (Data comes from here http://ctj.org/pdf/offshoreshell2014.pdf). The flip side of these are tax havens, which are chosen by corporations typically by the corporate tax rate or the level of secrecy allowed by national banking regulations (see index at http://www.financialsecrecyindex.com/).
Despite the above, I wanted to keep my map very minimal and free of many technical components. I really did not want this to turn out as a chart or infographic, as tax evasion is most typically visualized. To create something like that you need to be clear and structured, eliminating complexity & chaos. I wanted to do the opposite, focusing on the chaos and the abstraction it forces upon us.
prelim sketch

prelim sketch

My sign system is pretty straight forward: blue dots are American corporations scaled to the size of their offshore holdings, red dots are tax havens scaled to their financial secrency indices. Squigglier lines signifiy “dirtier” money which transform into straighter lines once they come back up “clean”. My connection system is the flow of cash from American companies into their tax haven subsidiaries. These companies use dozens, sometimes over 100 different offshore accounts, so as one traces the connection system from source to destination the flow splits up according to all of the different locations profits are shifted towards.
I also kind of have two surfaces. I may have abstracted the idea too much for there to be a clear. The first one is the “real” economy, what we see & know to exist, i.e. the Fortune 500 companies who we know are making a lot of profit, indicated by the blue dots of the sign system. The second is the “shadow” economy, where money pours into foreign subsidiaries and comes back up, largely tax-free. The two are overlayed over each other at a perspective, and in between the connection system depicts flows between the two, bridging them together. Reading up on the methodologies of the maps made by the guys at the Spatial Information Design Lab gave me a clearer idea of how to work w/ the data I had.
I got a lot of inspiration from Nina Austria piece “Austria”. The way she assembled strips of a road map really appealed to me because the flattened map was suddenly given a sense of flow and chaos which IMO is a better depiction of human flows. Same thing for the absence of space she creates.
<p>Also aesthetically I liked the line use Karin Schaefer’s “Kau 3 Decades”

Conference Project: Self Portrait Redux

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For my conference project I decided to revisit the self portrait assignment from the beginning of the semester.  A cut-and-paste collage method was all I could really manage at that time, and the resulting image was one of the goofiest things that I’ve ever produced. It looked like something ripped from the back of a cereal box, which is not a bad thing, but it was completely at odds with the sentiment behind the image. As much as I might’ve laughed while making it, that project was born from all kinds of anxiety. Before it became a weird piece of birthday card art, it was meant to commemorate my old Self, and to curse my new one. Old Me was chipper and full of hope. New Me is restless and miserable, in a state of endless panic over some imaginary thing or another. In the past couple of years I’ve let these feelings get the best of me, and to be honest I hate what I’ve turned into. It’s coo;, though. I’m working on it. img003
As a second attempt at self-portrait-mapping, I tried to really marinate in that malignant sourness, and illustrate the part of my mental landscape that explains all the weird habitual self-loathing I’ve been getting into lately. I’d already decided to map a coastline, so the ‘pollution’ idea came about almost immediately. Early on I formed a loose metaphorical narrative: Something goes very wrong up at the port, there’s a severe chemical spill, and that spill seeps back into the land, irreparably scarring the environment.
Originally there was the element of boat traffic, so thrown-off by the chemical spill that they bypass the forehead-port and sail right down my mouth. They kamikaze themselves and clog the waterway with more oil/chemicals/debris, as a way to illustrate the anxious person’s internal self-sabatoge. There were all kinds of details laid out for this Self-land — ports, lighthouses, boat traffic, pileups, fire, people swimming — but they looked super out-of-place when I included them. The cut-and-paste collage aesthetic of my earlier self portrait would have felt like a betrayal in this case. The feeling behind this picture and all their enormity would have been instantly trivialized by those visual cues that read “this is a joke.” So while the qualitative value of the map might have suffered (making it less of a map), but I like it better this way because all the interpersonal ramifications of the spill are implied, and attention is drawn to the spill itself. The way that the toxic contents of the nastiest part of my brain find their way down my throat and into my guts. This is more true to the reality of the spill, which is a metaphor for something that I’d really rather not actually discuss. I promise it’s nothing good

Conference Project Draft #1: Campus Graffiti

campus_map_print Here’s a very early outline of what I have planned for my conference work. I have noticed that many people use public wall space as a canvas for expressing themselves around campus. People are compelled to speak their mind, and as a result there are a lot of messages, doodles and scribblings all over the place.  I am planning on making a map that shows some of these messages and draws interesting relationships between message types. I’m definitely not set on these types being Band Name, Doodles, and Political Messages, but I used them to develop an early sign system and method of encoding information into my draft above. I am going to go out some evening this week and take pictures of everything I can, and then go to work sorting through and drawing some interesting connections to map out. Thinking back, I have always found something amusing about the graffiti in bathroom stalls around campus (not that this project is limited to bathroom graffiti). However it wasn’t until checking out Everything Sings and seeing Dennis Wood’s graffiti map that I realized this could be interesting to do around SLC. I hope to take this map a few steps beyond his, and map some connections between the underlying themes that I discover in the messages, and use the project as an opportunity to connect with the thoughts of those who write on walls around these here parts.

Self Portrait: A Map of the Most Meaningful Music of My Life

map This piece began with the idea that I could map the experience I have while I listen to music. I began by writing down all of the thoughts/feelings/pictures which came to mind during various listening sessions, or other moments where I would be hearing music and having some kind of awareness over my experience. I was fascinated by the idea of mapping my sensory experience. It seemed to allowed me to reveal what would otherwise be an entirely personal phenomenon. I filled a few pages with these sorts of trees, inspired by the ‘map of dreams.’ 20150218_231503   Not much of a map yet. I also wasn’t sure how I was going to convert this text into something with a sign system, and a surface. I played with ideas of using waveforms of music as a surface: 20150218_232736   The idea to map all of my favorite music came to me sort of spontaneously. I thought about the fact that music has formed a sort of backdrop to my life, and I began thinking about the fact that I could sort of catalog eras of my life by the music I’ve listened to.  I began making a list of the albums which have been particularly impacting to me, and I began thinking about how music resonates with me for certain periods of time, and how I really love how it makes me feel, but then after a while I put it away because it doesn’t resonate with me anymore. Sometimes I revisit it, like having tea with an old friend that I’ve grown apart from. I reminisce with it, but eventually play what really hits me today. I began making a list of the music which at one time or another I was feeling the strongest about. This is the music which that brings me back to a certain period of my life and allows me to remember how I felt at the time whenever I play it. I realized that by figuring out how to map this list, I could create a potent, yet otherwise invisible map of who I am. In a way, I am the sum of the music which I’ve listened to. In my map, the waveform-head is me. The blue cloud which comes out of the right ear is musical ‘ether.’  My sign system consists of album covers of music from my list. From the top-down, the album covers are ordered from oldest to most recent. The line running through the symbols indicate the order of their placement in my life, as well as their connection to each other. The line eventually runs through my ear, and into the head, symbolizing the connection between all of this music and myself. It’s a good time to point out that the head is made of a very colorful waveform in itself, which I think of as the summation of all of this music. In the way my life is sort of delineated by eras of musical listening, I was primarily influenced by Jimmy Gleeson’s Australia Map, the map of dreams from in-class, as well as some artwork by Jimmy Edgar AUS_MAP1_12013_Jimmy-Edgar_Sex-Drive20150218_235455

Self-Portrait: Mapping Communication

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 2.15.08 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 2.14.54 PM For my self portrait, I mapped my favorite part of my life: communicating. Over-communication is sort of a safe space for me. I’ve always been an over-thinker and speaker, solely because the mere act of speaking is comfortable for me. When I am communicating with different people/platforms/parties, I tend to manipulate my speech patterns in a way that allows me to closely monitor my counterpart’s receptivity. If I notice that they are bored or frustrated by my articulation, or if they fail to grant me “approval” or “validation,” I resort to extremes. The blue/green layering in the background represents communication waves, but it also represents the layers within my style of communication. You’ll notice that some of the medallions (the reddish bulbs floating to the top) have not made it very far up. These represent the people/platforms that I only communicate to gather information from. There are two types of information ‘retrieval’ in my life. One is sort of like gathering points in a video game. It’s sort of shallow and manipulative — sort of sleazy. It is represented in the bluer layers. The other type is heavy. I’m still searching for information, but in a different way. I’m searching for the answers to the bigger questions. I’m searching for validation from trustworthy sources. I hardly ever grant myself points when I engage in it, for it is the type of communication that dominates my existence. I feel like I was born to communicate in this way. This is represented in the greener layers. Often, I let the medallions that should stay in the blue layers rise up to the green layers. They are not usually itching to make this jump, either — it’s something I tend to enable without their permission. The medallions in the gray space represent the people who I WANT to cross the black and white line, but are not capable of playing that role in my life. The black and white dividing line represents my brain seeing the situation in ‘black and white.’ Once the medallions have passed this line, it’s nearly impossible for me to allow them to cross back over. Once I see them occupying this space, I practice the (second) type of communication with them — all the time, whether or not they want to engage. When I don’t get the ‘points’ I set out to retrieve from the medallions occupying the blue layers, I compensate by over-communicating with the medallions in the green layers. I am represented by the Klimt portrait in the bottom right. The mask represents my delusional sense of self, which I seek to protect (via overcommunication.) The layers around ‘me’ represent my personality traits that I try to communicate most, and the floral medallions around these layers represent my ‘armor’ from the notion that patterns of speech do not have the power to save me.

Self Portrait: A Map of 51°34’N and 1°47’W, 25/05/19, 21:01PM

1st draft snapshot   Sketch   horoscope Abandoned   DSC_0831   Detail   I have a talent for spinning yarns so believable even I forget what’s real, so when I engage in introspection I like to have tools, guidelines, a map. It’s safer; I’m less likely to commit self-idolatry or self-flagellation if I have a prescribed method or path to follow. For this reason I have always been very attached to tools like tarot and systems like astrology. (Just a warning: this is all going to seem rather ‘Dark Ages’ if you’re a science-minded type.) I also enjoy exploring different philosophical perspectives on our experience of the universe. One of my favourites is the idea that ‘I’ am the way I experience the universe and the universe is the experiences ‘I’ have. This effectively puts me right at the centre of the universe as experienced by me (which is, after all, all the universe I will ever experience). Not only is this a lovely little ego trip, it also has interesting implications for the organisation of a map. Hence my initial sketch; attempting map my world as if it were ringed around me. However, as I mentioned previously, I am not good at introspection without direction. I would never have found focus and I probably would have ended up panicking. Tarot spreads are too transient to map. They are true in the instant of your response to them and then they are outdated. It would have to be astrology. I thought this would be a good idea for multiple reasons. An astrology chart is basically a map of the heavens; if you stood on the exact spot I was born at the exact time I was born (see title) and looked up (and were somehow miraculously able to see all the stars clearly), then drew a map of the position of the constellations you would have made my horoscope (see Fig.2). In a horoscope, the universe revolves around you. Secondly, I have barely any previous experience with Photoshop et al. Having a basic shape and some visual prompts to speed up the creation of a map might be a little lazy but I believed it would help. In hindsight I was wrong. The nature of an astrology chart as a map-chart hybrid means that it is rather difficult to re-interpret without A) simply re-drawing the astrology chart with a pretty background and pictures (see Fig.3), or B) ending up with something rather more diagram-y than one would like (see, unfortunately, Fig. 1). Fig.3 was attempt no.1. It did teach me plenty of new software tricks but failed to turn into a respectable map. I include it to show what I wasted most of my week on. After that failure I tried going right back to what it was I wanted to map. Trouble was, everything I could think of was either impossible or diagram-like. For example, using the astrological symbols as my sign system (see Fig.4 for potential designs) involves no creative effort and would achieve nothing. Eventually I decided to asses the relative verity of the claims about me and my life made by the horoscope. Red is ‘true’, green is ‘possibly/maybe/unknown’, yellow is ‘false’. I did not choose these colours with any concious associations in mind (hence red not being ‘false’), but I did want bright colours that I liked, because it is a self portrait. I realise this does make it look as if it had been executed in Microsoft Paint, but I quite like it, aesthetically. The black dots are the positions of the planets in the astrological houses. Should I choose to continue with this map I will ink in the appropriate symbols (post printing) with gold ink. Similarly I will ink in as many of the details on the original chart as I feel aesthetically necessary. Despite many setbacks and much panic and confusion I feel that at least I have learnt something from this exercise. The reading and the class discussion helped me not fret about my map not being comprehensible and my map being ultimately false. It was also helpful to have the definitions to go back to, even though I fear I have not met them in every instance. For one, I am not entirely sure my map meets the criteria for a map; it is so sparse and there isn’t exactly a space in which the points exist. I would say that it is map-like in that it shows concentrations of truth in relative proximity to implied statements, and that the statements are only comprehensible in the context of the surface (the chart skeleton). My map therefore proposes that the implications of the positions of various planets in various sectors of the sky at the moment of my birth is a valid representation of me as a person, due to the concentration of truth related to those implications. It does this by making visible my self knowledge (which enabled me to assign relative verity), and placing it within the framework of a series of suppositions about my personality. This is all very thin, of course, and I would like to see if I can come up with some sort of system of connection to maybe add another layer of meaning (and make it more map like). I also think it will be much improved when I have inked on the details. I would do them digitally but they’re far too important to be left to the computer. I believe the gold ink will also add a pleasing depth and texture to the digital work, which is currently rather flat. I was much inspired by Janet Caswell’s ‘Alternate Realities’ (Harmon, 128) and Kanarinka’s ‘Mostly Sunny, chance of showers late.’ (Harmon, 122) for their use of colour and the circular form. I particularly liked the instinctive randomness of Caswell’s, as well as her openness about the flaws of her system. It was very encouraging. Oh, and for anyone who’s wondering – my parents had my horoscope made up when I was born and they only gave it to me on my 18th birthday. I hadn’t paid that much attention to astrology previously, but it’s really remarkably accurate.