A NARRATIVE ATLAS
At crossroads between data and itinerary, these five maps were made following a series of personal explorations, were they of a psychological or physical place. Their ambition is to convey a certain vision of these explorations, taking a very subjective stance – these are not traditional maps; they focus on textures, colors, senses, and have a particular place in both space and time. Each of them tells a story of its own, through two main mediums– both visual and auditive. Sound is about an ambiance, vision about an abstract understanding. I wanted to immerse myself in each of these five explorations as much as possible, and this meant to be anchored in my sensitivity and memories to fulfil the idea of these maps. They all want to express a sense of the infra-ordinary (George Perec), a sense of what happens when we are no longer busy in a space but busy by a space or a thought.
MAP OF A THOUSAND NIGHTS خريطة ألف ليلة
(mapping from a childhood memory)
When asked to map a childhood memory, it was not one that came to mind but more of a general feeling that accompanied me throughout my earliest years. The main thing I remembered was how every night, when I had to go to sleep, I would get scared of the dark and of monsters under my bed. An itinerary would then start from my room to my parent’s door, where I would shyly knock and wait for them to open. At first, they wouldn’t– so I would go back to my room, wait, knock again –and so on, until they finally did. I had never really talked about it with my mother, so I called her to get her side of the story, and tell her mine. I wanted to have the conversation in Arabic, to reconnect with this idea of home– it was both surprising and very moving. A bass note was incorporated, to convey that idea of a repeating dreadful path.
Below is an english transcript of the conversation, as well as a sound and feeling transcript. The sound wave of the conversation was extracted, and re-interpreted so that it would act as the map of an itinerary– trembling areas for nightmares, the repetition of the form to symbolise my back and forth, and finally that simple line for peace and relief.
FROM THERE TO HERE
(visual memoir map / from home to parsons paris)
How do things combine to form a present state? This map is made of a digital design printed on several sheets of transparent paper, which are meant to be layered and superimposed. The route to Parsons Paris was not a straight nor easy one– the decision to go to art and design school is something at the opposite of what was expected of me, and I have only had the courage to shift towards that path after two years of more traditional studies. All of this, however, was necessary, because it is all of this that constructed my way to here. This map, again, is about feelings. Each part of a heart is printed on one sheet of transparent paper, with conceptual legends that aim to explain how I got to Parsons. Alone, each sheet means nothing; but it is only once combined that meaning comes through.
The heart is open at the center, to make way for the future, and for better things to come.
morse code message made with the recording of a heartbeat. “the space for better things to come”. loops twice.
CROSSROADS: COLORS AND WORDS
(the eye of the flâneur / observation in passage vivienne)
This map was made after observation of the Passage Vivienne, a famous gallery in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris. What stroke me most was how different the Passage is from the rest of the street, even though it is technically a street. Once I entered, everything changed – from color to lighting to the resonance of sounds and voices. I thus found that the Passage had a very characteristic feel to it, which I wanted to express. I mapped its colors, and followed people to write their conversations down. I wanted everything in this map to cross and overlay, to remind of the geography and architecture of the Passage, and also of people walking and meeting in those different spaces of the place– the result being an abstract composition of how Passage Vivienne appeared to me.
recording of the resounding voices and sounds in the passage vivienne, while i walked through it from end to end.
THINGS YOU CAN READ WITH YOUR HAND (BELLEVILLE)
(fictional map of a dérive / belleville)
I was a bit lost when I arrived in Belleville. Even though I have been living in Paris for a while now, it was a part of town I had never really payed careful attention to. I felt there was so many things to look at, and started taking pictures at random without really knowing the direction I wanted my map to have. Ultimately, I realised that what my attention had been almost exclusively focused on were textures (things you can read with your hand)– they were everywhere, from colors, words written on walls, paint, ripped off posters, clothes, plants, materials… I felt that textures were what would express best my idea of the place, as I was fascinated by the diversity of elements it contained. I also knew that I wanted to introduce an element of people, for I consider they are the soul of the neighbourhood. Then came the idea of diptychs: to place textures and people side by side– pictures I felt had some interconnectivity between them, that would, together, create the sense of what is Belleville. These diptychs may not be evident at first glance, but they must be seen almost as poems— joining elements that may not seem connected at first, but would create a new meaning when put together.
recording of the sound ambiance in belleville with added sounds of textures.
(map of habits)
I like words. I like using them, I like writing them, I like finding out where they come from. A while ago I discovered that the predictive option on my phone’s keyboard suggested my most frequently used words, and built sentences trying to recreate my own way of doing so. To me, this seemed like the quintessence of habits; I proceeded to create a paragraph at random, repeatedly tapping on the predictive, which resulted in something that immediately reminded me of surrealists’ écriture automatique (automatic writing). Could an algorithm discover what I have been trying to say for years, by summing up what I have actually been saying? I don’t know– the paragraph, the poem that came out of it doesn’t make much sense. But I like to believe that this predictive function has its own way of doing, as well as its own meaning. For the form, I took inspiration from Guillaume Apollinaire’s calligrams, drawing the writing in the form of both a hand and a mouth. Doing so suggests the exploration of the relationship between touch and voice, writing and talking, and how these two notions may have been blurred to create a new form of communicating words.
a reading of the poem’s words by a computer voice. loops 3 times.