Where you at? A workshop on mapping

This workshop consisted of two approaches to spontaneous map-making; first reflecting an individual’s knowledge and familiar spaces, and then the aggregative knowledge of a collective. The first exercise was a ten-minute “warm up” for which, with pens and sharpies, people were asked to draw a map of the campus, or in practice, the crossroads of Carbondale.

whole group blurry

Each person drew their own map, and then explained it to the others. We noted similarities (horizontal and vertical transportation corridor lines) and differences. Even among those from the area, maps varied, highlighting different features; prisons, corn, the railroad and rivers. And people had different ways of narrating their maps, bringing to the fore the way maps are described, or told. In this context mapmaking is less an assertion of power and more an exercise in remembering and explaining the affective and familiar places that are part of the life of the storyteller. In storytelling, the dimension of time that is concealed by the map’s flatness or two-dimensionality is restored, at least within the representation of these places. This exercise makes the idea of a cartography with one’s feet intuitive, relating geography to the body and emotions.

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