Memory Markers:
Collaborative GPS Cartography    2004

Public art installation throughout Saint-Lô, France as part of the Contemporary Art Biennial Mâtres des Lieux

Substance: Diverse Practices from the Periphery, group exhibition at Metropolitan State College of Denver's Center for Visual Art in conjunction with the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Conference, October 2005
 

Six 40x40" signs positioned throughout the city, printed documentation and website

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Memory Markers was a design project that gave the residents of Saint-Lô the opportunity to bridge the public/private gap by relating significant personal narratives associated with locations in the city on public signs positioned throughout the town. While the signs were in place during the summer, local citizens would have the chance to reflect on the stories and the referenced places that were imbued with personal meaning by other residents.

The work began by interviewing residents interested in the project and gave them each portable GPS receivers with the assignment to conduct walks around locations in the city that had personal significance to them, marking them as waypoints and recording their narratives both in written form and in interviews. Several of them recorded digital photography as well. Each sign was designed with two sides with a personal narrative in English on one side and in the original French on the other. Each resident’s walk and waypoints were presented on the sign with an aerial view of the city.

For the final signs, I chose to present the walks and narratives of

six of the residents and created a web site for presenting the entire

set. A printed paper map was made available indicating the locations of the Memory Markers.

 

This work focuses on the relationship between gesture, memory and place, frequently making use of the precision recording cartography of GPS as an expressive medium. In this way, I develop

a critical and personally expressive relation to technologies of

mapping and surveillance. Twenty residents participated in documenting their walks and articulating their narratives, and all were moved by the process and the results. Many residents remarked to me how meaningful it was to experience the private histories of other citizens embedded into places in their city.

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