Monday, August 14, 2006

Timelines

This might be a little off-subject, but lately I've been having thoughts about remembering the past and the process of remembrance. My (very short) life has thus far been divided into distinct chapters based upon geography. Over the past two weeks I've come into (virtual) communication with people from my past, and these interactions have left me feeling totally out of sorts.
Topics:
The very idea of "distancting" onesself from prior events or people, figuratively or literally...
And the fears that do emerge when one realizes how much one has forgotten - about places and people and events that we were once so immediate and essential to the every day...
How we create "timelines" than move in a linear way, left to right, which imply cause and effect... what happens when we loop back and reimmerse ourselves in a prior chapter? Is this purely regression? Or can this still be a step "forward," so to speak?
I remember people the way I left them 5 years ago... things aren't the same, and many wouldn't remember me if I reappeared. However my memories of them are precious and perfect.
Memory as defense...
-AC

Thursday, August 03, 2006

internal/external

"Like psychoanalysis, modernist painting and sculpture rely upon substantially unproblematized conceptions of internal and external space to ground the self." -Mignon Nixon (essay on Eva Hesse).

What is the process of interiorization? In what way do we rely on the concept of internal space to ground our identity? And how do we rely on external space? when do we let these ideas slide? do we ever?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Universal Bodies (& Language)

Alright, so really I just can't get enough of this blogging business (technology is so very exciting!). But I had one more thing that I've been thinking about recently that I wanted to just put out there. I've just been thinking about bodies and physical experience as a universal truth. We all live, and therefore we each have some sort of experience as a physical being (movement, pain, hunger, touch, etc). And I think one very interesting product of this universal experience is how our language has developed in a way that reflects that experience. So much of our vocabularly and our body of cultural phrases (body - hah!) rely on references to our physical selves that we only understand because of this common knowledge. We know where our various body parts are, we know what they do, we know what they mean because we all experience them every single moment of our existence. I just think that is kind of fascinating. Here's my five minute brainstorm of language references:

To have heart
An eye for an eye
A bird in the hand
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
At the heart of it
Put my foot in my mouth
Brain freeze
A body of work
The head/foot of the table
“Corp” rooted words (corporate, corporal, corpus, corporation...)
Male/female inanimate objects (boats, natural disasters, etc)

Just a thought....

-Laurel

What is a map? Where are the boundaries? (Alex)

A map communicates information to others. It describes some form of relations between parts. In my world map, I created relationships based on my own traveling: I described the plane journey or freeway route from one section to another. What struck me whilst trying to draw the world, was that each place I have traveled is a complete world, a complete set of rules, a whole, and as a traveler you move from one seemingly discreet locale to another. A map serves to make these discrete locales relate to one another and gives them meaning as a greater whole. A map is both built on travel, and makes travel possible by showing the places that exist outside of your own frame of reference.

A map is not territory –it is the idea of territory, the possibility of landscape, a collective belief in a permanent landscape.

A map collects knowledge about space and represents that space through a subjective lens.

The Body: I started trying to translate a three dimensional form onto a two dimensional plane, emphasizing skin and topography. Then I thought about internal topography and how skin connects to flesh, and veins and bones run through this flesh. I asked myself where the boundaries of my body are, (can you try to imagine yourself as an arbitrarily bounded object/country, that could be part of a community/continent? What are you bordering?) which lead to thinking about how these boundaries change and which parts of my body, if any, are permanent. The bone structure, the eyes, these are permanent.

[The head has always seemed separated from the naked body-that vulnerable, unpolished, non-human flesh we hide away. The head is immortal. Our social interfacing happens as a head and a set of clothing, the social image, the bone structure of our face and the ideas contained within being the permanent parts of our body that will remain even after our deaths. Nakedness as a social construct is sexy but nakedness as a corpulent reality remains uncomfortable and inconveniently mortal. ]

Where are the boundaries between our bodies? Between our identities? How could we map a community, making intelligent connections between discreet individuals and families? Economically? Through conversations, through physical distance, through chronological intersections?


Were there more similarities between our body maps or our world maps? We all relied to some extent on conventions –to tell us what the world looks like from space, or our bodies look like internally. The conventions fill in the gaps that we can’t actually SEE for ourselves. Should we try this again, avoiding these conventions? Our body maps were also similar in that they didn’t stray to the political, social or even navigational-they remained personal and grounded in the physical. This makes sense as we are incapable of experiencing the world outside of our bodies as a physical reality, but should we push ourselves to investigate them on both more personal and more abstract levels?

Lets do some research, getting a pool of people to try the same activities.

And did being tied to each other make any difference? It made me more aware of the drawing as a physical and spacial process but i don't think it changed what i did.

A Quick Thought on Community Involvement:

I think it was pretty clear that the three of us approached our maps of the world from very different angles. While they all involved elements of personal experience, the level of influence that our personal experiences had on the drawings varied greatly. And more than that, the substance conveyed in the each of the drawings, and therefore the visual characteristics of the drawings, seemed to me extremely diverse. In terms of our maps of our bodies, I think it was clear again that we each approached our map making from different places, choosing to represent our selves in three different ways. (As a side note: it is interesting to me how this can show what we value about ourselves, how we view space and relationship within our bodies, how we approach any thinking about our physical selves, etc.) However, I don’t see these approaches as being quite as extreme in their differences as our world maps were. Because here’s the thing, we can all have extremely different experiences in the world, and that can show itself in extremely different ways on paper. My knowledge of other places in the world, places that I haven’t experienced, can only come through what I see in books and the media. There’s no way for my picture of the world to be the same as anyone else’s picture of the world. But the thing about bodies is that we have no experience anywhere in the world that wasn’t somehow filtered through our bodies. These bodies allow us to move, think, feel, eat, talk, sleep, reason, pee, etc. And so, I’m thinking that with all of these basic fundamental experiences in common, it makes sense that body maps would be more similar than our world maps. If our body maps are in some fundamental way experiential (and I think they must be…), then wouldn’t it make sense for our maps to reflect a certain amount of common experience?

This makes me wonder about people in general: if you were to give paper and drawing utensils to a very large group of people, I wonder if the world maps would have a greater spectrum of color/individuality/subject/approach/etc than the body maps. Our experiences within our bodies and perceptions of our bodies are more similar because of their human-sized, human level natures, and I’m wondering if that would be reflected on a larger scale among a big group of people. We all have bodies, and the majority of our bodies are relatively similar. I know that how we think about our bodies and how we choose to represent them can be very different, but at the heart of it, these three maps seem somehow more linked. (Or maybe it’s just that I can relate to them, more than the maps of the world…) In any case, wouldn’t it be an interesting thing to try?

-Laurel

Reflections on Map Drawing Assignment (Laurel)

In retrospect, I had a lot of trouble knowing what to put onto paper. So my response to not knowing what to do was just to put something (anything) down, and I am wondering now whether what I drew is really what I think a map of my world/body would look like. It is possible that part of this trouble for me simply had to do with the fact that I was not map-making in my own element, so there was a certain lack of comfort with the map-making tools (paper, crayons, etc). Up until now, all of my map-making, map-thinking experience has been three-dimensional and sensory-based. So I think that my product was perhaps less satisfying because I didn’t exactly know how to approach the tools. I was thinking about how to make what I was making, rather than about the form of what it was I wanted to make. (Sorry for that sentence…that’s awful!) Which was probably not the right balance, I realize now. That issue aside, this assignment brought up some very fundamental questions for me (fundamental for our project, anyways…):

What is a map? What does it mean for a map to be “readable” to someone else? Does a map of my body need to give specific, universally understood directions, like a map of trails on a mountain? And if my “map” doesn’t say the same thing to every person who looks at it, is it still mapping or is it just representational? (Where is that line between representation and map? What is “map?”)

I guess this assignment more than anything made me question what my goals were when making a map of my body (map in general?). Should a map of my body reveal something specific and real and legible about my physical being, or is it okay if it instead tells people something about my experience as this physical being (something about the way that I choose to view my self based on lived experience)? Is it enough to just represent my body the way I envision it, the way I experience it, or does a map need to do more than that? Maps convey information. Okay. But what kind of information do they convey? Is that something that is standardized? And I realize that historically maps do a lot of different things: some maps are geographically correct while others are blatantly incorrect, some are intended to show two dimensional space while others try to represent that third dimension, some serve as guides while others serve as warnings, etc. But I do think that at the heart of it all, maps attempt to convey some kind of truth. Clearly, that truth is bound to the time/space/social climate of the period in which it existed, it is a truth that belongs to the mapmaker. But, in thinking about maps and their relationship to truth, I am wondering what kind of truth we have attempted to put on paper. As mapmakers, what are we trying to convey? I think perhaps that was the fundamental question that was missing before I started my maps – I needed to know more specifically what truth I was trying to capture about my world/body. It was easy enough to just plough into the drawing, but how can a document be readable to somebody else if the mapmaker doesn’t have a clear understanding of what the map is about?

-Laurel