Mapping as Walking as Learning to See in the Digital Age

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  • Workshop Statement

    We walk through the world looking. Sight is the dominant sense with which we are trained to take in the world around us. The focus of the mapping exercise is to amplify our “other” senses. Let’s quickly put forward a premise. What happens with the loss of one of the five human senses  – vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste? The answer is known; the remaining senses take on more depth. Mapping as walking, as learning to see heightens our awareness of seeing with all our senses. The mapping exercises share in expanding traditional conditions of spatial properties by exploring the sensory perceptions of any given spatial locale. The approach provides the participant with the resources for drawing upon the range of sensory experiences to fully “see” the environment. All participants will be asked to record in various media (photographs, writing, moving image, sound) their impressions and perceptions of Cibali-Fener-Balat neighborhood. These subjective narratives -formed in relation to the urban tissue- will be presented as a collective installation. Participants will explore the physical, geographic and cultural area of Cibali-Fener-Balat.  Through systems of observation and methods of recording information they will address interpretations of place. The aim of the workshop is to provide participants with a method for learning to see through their senses the world around them, how to record this information and how it can become the research tool for developing creative projects. Using a specific locale, participants explore the physical, characteristic of place; focusing on seeing with all of their senses, developing the knowledge of the sounds of a space, the feel of a space, the taste of the space and the look of the space. Mapping as walking, as learning to see is an ongoing work, on the move, nomadic and transitory, providing insights that help the artist/designer to see the physical environment in new ways.  It converts the familiar to the unfamiliar and vice versa.  The essence of the project is to make us utilize all of our senses and to learn to see the non-visible. The act of decoding the cityscape through the senses challenges participants to “see” the landscape of the city through motion in real time, moving through the space of the city to experience the sight, sound, smell, taste and feel of the urban environment. It provides a means of interpreting and defining the city as a physical place full of sensory experiences. A momentary encounter with something foreign –architecture, object, food, and a scent- has the potential of crystallizing the experience. Making place more than a set of coordinates. The process of gathering and recording these experiences provides the participant with a reservoir of sensory codes stored for future use in the creative process. The workshop has three stages:

    1. data collection:  the first day of the workshop groups will be sent on walking explorations of the Cibali-Fener-Balat neighborhood. They will be given a “map” that is devoid of any specific markers beyond street directions. Over the course of their day they will become  “familiar’ with the locale and began mapping their sensory experiences.
    2. sharing: day two, each participant will experience the locale with a diffract set of eyes and prior associations these will be critical in the follow up conversation of how we “see “ with our senses.
    3. design outcomes:  The final phase is for the artist /design to take this information into the studio and to use it as the starting point for the creating a project that reflects the essence of place.  We will collect information from participants for months to come after the workshop.