how to make a map

I have done SO MUCH this week. I’m exhausted. I’m excited. I’m bursting to the seams with questions.

I want first to introduce my current project. It feels weird to call it current, because it’s also sat alongside everything I’ve done in the last year or so. It’s current, but it’s always been there.

Because of the current structure I exist within, there’s two sides to it; a performance work and a wider research question. They feed into each other within my mind and body, by no means separate, but rather two different articulations of the same thinking. The performance work is a piece in which I wish to build a map with my moving body, exploring a place of personal significance that I might soon no longer have access to. It’s about grief, land, family ties and custodianship, I think. It’s forged through the inherent relationships between maps, memory and body. These things weave all of what follows together.

My question, at this point, is how can the body be a cartographic tool? It sounds a bit odd, to make a map with the body, but it’s actually how all maps have ever been made. There’s this quote from a lecture dancer Alexandra Harrison gave on Mapping as Choreography:

“Maps of the landscape that depend upon x/y coordinates position the body in space. Once located the body is oriented in its facing according to north/south directionality. As Manning argues to read a Cartesian map is to ask a “pre-formed body-concept to conform” to the gridding (2007, p. 143). There is an authority in this articulation of locality and as where one stands becomes clear so too does where, and how, one moves. Maps choreograph. They prescribe movement through space; articulating edges, proximity, distance and features, charting routes and describing terrain. This score of finite combinations designates somatic possibilities and a bordered imagination.”

What this doesn’t convey is the opposite – how the body is the constructer of the map. And I don’t just mean in a draw-it-on-a-bit-of-paper way, I mean more our body is how we experience the world, and if a map is a record of the world, then a map is entirely at the mercy of the body.

This tension is feeding my practical explorations, these actualising as improvisation sessions. Through research I have found and devised a variety of tasks, impossible questions and so forth. I move amongst them, sometimes pulling away and other times drawing near. There’ll be more on this later.

This is kinda week one of a seemingly infinite project. There’s deadlines but they’re not as important as some believe them to be. This might take a month, or three, or five years. But I’m so happy to be here.

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