I wanted to map a journey for the set project Making Sense. I decided to map my errands because this was a mundane task near to where I live.
My first idea had been to map journeys I regularly took in the past. The problem with this, is I would have to travel further to get close to the subject. (Mapping from memory would likely prove inaccurate.)
On Wednesday 17th November 2021, I went on a journey for errands in Oxford.
To document my experience, I took notes in my notebook of the sounds, smells, sights and my route. I took photographs that I found interesting, that I felt said something or showed where I was. I imagined I was tying to show the way to someone who needed to follow the same journey and maybe doesn’t know the area.
When writing, I focused on the facts and details. This was an interesting experience for me because when usually on errands, I am either letting my thoughts drift or putting my opinion on everything I see.
Taking the journey in this way, felt mindful and freeing. I felt this exercise would be a good exercise for creative writing.
I researched the physical formats for map making by looking at maps in the flesh.
I remembered the collection Ruth showed us in our bookbinding workshop about maps. I visited the collection in the Richard Hamilton Building this week and took a few photos of some interesting aspects.
I didn’t photograph one map where the designer included graffiti and dog poo on their map of an area. It is the designer’s choice what they include in the map and what they want to direct the reader to.
This map opens out lengthways and shows us 2 sides of a street. The centre of the map represents the road itself. They have used words to tell us information such as who lives in the building and events that have happened. The map was not in English, so I could not understand exactly what it was telling me, but even so, I could guess a lot from the way it is visually expressed. As the reader, it feels like you are walking down the road.
Another map that caught my attention is one made up purely of photos. The designer has taken a series of photos at one location and pieces the images together to create a picture of the place. This reminded me of David Hockney’s approach, but the photos here are made to look seamless. This technique means that we are given more information than could be captured in a single photo of a place.
Amongst the collection of maps, I found this booklet by Stephen Willats, whose work I have looked at previously. The Tower Mosaic Book maps together the residents of the building. Because of the boldness, the map is easy to read.
Michael C. Nicholson
Nicholson maps his day in this booklet. The horizontal line represents the hours in the day and the silhouettes signify different activities. The way they are positioned remind me of a clock face and therefore the viewer sees a clock even before reading the text.
‘Where You Are is a book of 16 maps created by writers, artists and thinkers.’
‘We’re constantly mapping our lives, even if we don’t realize it. The emails we send, the restaurants we Google, the buses we take, the status updates we post —all of this is a way to track where we’ve been, what we’ve done and what’s important to us. ‘
I looked at this collection and include some of the maps here:
Ghost Pots relates to his experience as a writer.
Swings of Harlem marks the swings the author remembers from childhood.
The map folds into the front cover. Her map was unique in the way that she made a large folded map separate to the rest of the work. There is a booklet that comes with the map to add context to the images.
After being given the brief, I wanted to learn more about how information can be mapped and exactly what a map is. I wanted inspiration for my final map and looked at the following books.
Idea Generation by Neil Leonard
A Century of Graphic Design by Jeremy Aynsley
Design Literacy by Steven Heller
When creating a map of a place, the designer has the challenge of condensing information into a clear and readable format.
I drew up a mind-map to help me generate ideas for my final map. (A map about mapping). I used the ‘MindView’ program to create this map: