Made by Hand

Tactile Tahoe Map (just the beginning)

 Recycled found redwood blank for first tactile map. 

Recycled found redwood blank for first tactile map. 

Starting work on a mapping project. It's loosely related to my play in that it's exploring human relationships with water, more specifically the coastline as that is our most accessible entry point to such a relationship. The project is inspired by Inuit Tactile Maps.

My friend Renee Rhodes introduced me to these treasures when we were devising a class about mapping landscape with the body. Since then I've tried to integrate the concept into my classes and projects. Now, with the pressure of an upcoming studio visit and application deadline I've decided the time is now! 

There's not a whole bunch written about these. Many of the blog posts I've come across credit each other and the research seems somewhat circular. Until I found and article by Peter Whitridge entitled "Landscapes, houses, bodies: Place and the Archeology of Inuit Imaginaries, " in the Journal for Archeological Methods and Theories. Pretty groovy stuff actually. I need to reread it but I one thing I gathered was that despite the environments harsh reality, the cold, darkness, ice, the people embraced the environment, integrated it into their culture and society through stories, songs and sculpture. That relationship allowed them to survive and for the landscape to survive. In contrast western culture builds walls, striving to separate society from the natural environment, aims to control the resources found there in. The land is not allowed to be integrated into society. It is not part of the culture. The relationship suffers. The land and the people invariable suffer as well.

I like how the teeth mark from the grinder attachment leaves these marks. It reminds me of waves. I'm really liking this power grinding thing. The physicality of it reminds me of dancing. I'm looking at buying a few more attachments like these....

And/or this....

 More tools!

More tools!

Part of the process also involves creating a dance for video. I'm starting to gather footage, spending more time along the coast. The choreography of the dance will be based on disputed coastlines, privatized and/or made inaccessible by human activity, either directly or indirectly. My first map will be of Lake Tahoe. It's a mnemonic thing. I left of piece of myself there. I remember the frustration of coming across NO TRESPASSING signs.... wondering "But how can they own the lake?"