Tuesday, January 29

Got to the studio pretty early and mapped for a while. Then Mel Counsell, the tutor who was quite critical about the bunnies and challenged everything I said, came over to me and told me that she’s my personal tutor! That means she writes my assessments at the end of each term. I can still have tutorials with whoever I want whenever I want, but I think that working closely with Melanie will be good for me. During my 10 minute quick crit last week someone mentioned a podcast on This American Life about mapping. Already sick of all my music, I decided that it’s time to transition into podcasts and this one would be a good one to start with. There were 5 podcasts, each about a different person who maps in a different way. There were two that I really liked. One was about this guy, Dennis Wood, who maps the most bizarre things.

In short:

Jack-o-lantern Map: The atlas was going to be three sections, corresponding to whatwe’d decided neighborhoods did. This was to transform universal stuff – things in general – into particular things, into the ding an sich. And vice versa.

For openers a section concerned with stars and sunlight, rock and water, leaf and tree … in general. Except for the map of pumpkins, the maps we completed are from this section.

Mentions in the Newsletter Map: Our big discovery here was how important the address was. It didn’t matter who lived at the most frequently mentioned address. Whoever it was, was always most frequently mentioned. This took us into the social geography of the neighborhood, and how it maintained the social structure built into the neighborhood by its original planners (which was reflected by the distribution of pumpkins at Halloween and everything else).

Underground Map: Did we struggle to understand and represent the gas, water, and sewer systems! Dawn Davis and Tim Hess went down to the city and the gas company. They came back with the raw data, long linear maps of the streets and alleys. Tim then drafted many versions. Carter Crawford built on Tim’s work in his effort to combine all the data into a single image. It took him a lot of drafts. Most of the trials vanished into the wastebasket. I used the final image in The Power of Maps (p. 19), to make a point about the social construction of maps. It’s the most widely reproduced of the maps.

Read more: http://makingmaps.net/2008/01/10/denis-wood-a-narrative-atlas-of-boylan-heights/

“Creating a map means ignoring eveyrhting in the world but one thing…Maps have meaning because they filter out all the chaos in the world and focus obsessively on one item….” (Ira Glass)

We’re a good match, me and maps.

The other interview that I really liked was about this guy who became hypersensitive to the hums and buzzes and drones around him in his new office to the point that he brought in a pitch pipe to figure out what note his heater was “playing” because he found himself harmonizing with it. Then he started finding out the notes for his dialtone and the printer and realized that the triad they formed was and augmented 4th, a sound so vile that it was banned by the Church (learned that with Jeff during the piano lesson years!). And then he went on to explain that we have positive associations with major notes (happy) and negative associations with minor notes (sad) and that the combination of notes that our houses and offices hum can affect our moods. Great concluding remark:

“Some failed telemarketer will promise to harmonize the whir of my toaster with the flush of my toilet thereby guaranteeing me an inner peace worthy of the millennium.”

At some point I realized I needed to leave the studio to buy replacement blades in order to make more maps. I decided that if I was stepping out, I’d better do it right. So I went to the Victoria & AlbertMuseum to see some glass, ceramics and architecture. Great, great decision. The glass gave me great ideas and I watched a video on how Wedgewood ware is made! How far is Wedgewood, anyway? Day-trip? Parents?

I could have stayed in the museum for hours more, but I was already late for my stained glass evening. I love moonlighting at City and Guilds. They have a Foundation program, a year long, where you can do a little bit of everything and then concentrate in one thing. That sounds so appealing. Also, so different from the Slade. I think I need to do another semester abroad. I finished cutting the glass pieces for my map and sandblasted oddly shaped pieces. Sandblaster. Everyone should have the opportunity to use one in this life. Then I was introduced to copper foil. I didn’t want to leave but it was clean up time at that point. I really can’t wait until next Tuesday to start copper foiling all the glass, so I think I’m going to go this Thursday as well. Before you can solder the lead, you need to foil the edges so the solder holds. I think I once wrote about glass slumping. Putting glass in a kiln. Melting glass bottles. Carey said I can bring stuff to slump next time! Ahhh loving this class! I’ve always wanted to do glass slumping and the more time I spend in the glass studio the more I want to give it a try. One of the people hanging out in the studio is planning a trip to New York City so you can imagine how thrilled he was to hear I’m a native. It was so nice to talk about New York to someone who wanted to know so much about it. Great chat was had about NYers vs. Londoners and a general culture comparison. After class I made my way back to the studio where I had planned on picking up my laptop but then decided there was no point in shlepping it home if there was no wifi waiting for me when I got back. So I left it there and went to a gettogether in Covent Garden for a bit and then walked home. Not a short walk from Covent Garden to Paddington, but it was a great opportunity to walk new streets and get a better sense of place and space and where things are in proximity to each other. Two people asked me for directions and I knew what to tell them. Love it.

Walking usually goes well with thinking and as I was walking along Grafton Way, not too far from UCL, I was thinking about what my goals are this semester in terms of meeting people and making friends. I don’t think I’m looking for life long friends, best friends, people I become inseparable with. I don’t want shallow superficial interactions either. I just want have interesting, inspiring, and philosophical conversations that move me in whatever way, while complementing and enhancing how I fill my time and my search for whatever while I’m here. Preferably but not necessarily with someone I meet once—someone I wait with in line at a supermarket, an artist in residence who gave a talk, a person sitting next to me on the Tube. This will be relevant shortly.

At one point my feet were killing and I was tired and I realized where I was and how far there was left to go so I got on the bus. Obviously got off two stops early and needed to orient myself. I knew I was on my street, but I didn’t know which way home was. As I was looking at one of the maps on the sidewalk, someone walks over to me and says, “you look lost.” And I asked him which way Edgware Road was and he was walking that way, too. Obviously sounding like I’m not from here, he asked where I was from and then we got to talking about New York, how that compares to London, the culture of London, travel, he was born in India, he believes in metaphysics and was thinking about NYC the other day so he wasn’t surprised at all to have met me, he’s not religious but really into spirituality, and then he got into a whole rant about Iran and the Middle East—not revealing politics, just musing on how people say the most inane and mindless and ungracious things. Then we got to Edgware Road and headed off in separate directions, as we parted ways he said, “I saw you and you looked like someone with an interesting perspective. Good luck on your journey!”

Thanks, you too.

That’s what I want. Luck on the journey and people like that along the way.

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