Saturday, October 10, 2009

Shaping things, spaces and emotions

"Soft-Maps are quilted maps of neighborhoods and parks that represent someone's unique place in the city. Each map is meant to be used: wrap your children in them, have a picnic, pull them close during the next Nor'easter. Not only beautiful, these blankets can be used as a mnemonic tool. As your child grows up with a Soft Map, they learn to read their neighborhood and its landmarks in a tactile, easily remembered way.

Handmade custom Soft-Maps can be designed and constructed at any scale: the small town you grew up in, the city or country you're lonely for, or the college campus where you met your mate."

I love Emily Fischer's blanket maps because they represent lived space in such a mundane but rich way.

I like that the maps can picture any place: somewhere you've lived or somewhere you'd like to live; somewhere real or somewhere imaginary. I like that the maps can include stable structures like streets and buildings, as well as more transitory elements like a particular path taken through a place on a given day.

But any map can do that. What makes these maps special, I think, has everything to do with being soft and flexible, made to wrap the body and comfort it. Intimate objects for intimate spaces.

Leah Evans' textile maps are also gorgeous:

Left to right: Blue Satellite, Soil Survey and Energy Isthmus 

But it seems to me that these quilts ask to be hung on a wall, rather than wrapped around a body. It can't just be the bird's eye view—the maps above have that too—so maybe it's the map content? Evans explains:

"It is the use of maps in organizing our ideas of land that interests me most of all. Often, people ask me for specifics about the places and symbols in my work. Most of my pieces are not based consciously on specific places. For me they are intimate explorations of map language and imagined landscapes. Through my research and experience, I have decided that maps create more questions than they answer."

I guess what I'm trying to understand is how the materiality of something affects how we experience it. Both artists' quilts are soft maps, but they aren't affective in the same ways. This suggests that material alone isn't enough, or rather that the affective significance of an object depends on more than its materiality.

It depends on the shape the material takes, the content or meaning expressed, the ways in which is can be used, and...?


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