All maps ‘map’ memories and no map tells the truth.

All maps are fictions, abstractions, simplification and all begin as a seed in someone’s imagination. These facts don’t in any way diminish the value or potential of mapping as a means of capturing the fleeting essence of memories. In fact maps provide a useful symbolic framework in which to explore both belonging and identity. They facilitate way-finding and re-visiting and memory.

The following images are maps of memories. They’re not concept maps or mind maps per se (more of those in the next Marvellous Maps post) but nets in which a wide variety of practitioners – students, artists medical professionals and educators are seeking to catch butterflies.

Mapping Memories 01
Mind maps can be literal sketch maps used to develop our thinking or an abstraction, as in this piece by artist Nancy Tingey.

Artist Miriam Rudolph believes that memory maps can: narrate my experiences and perceptions of different places I have been to […] to experience my surroundings very consciously, to be aware of details and to render the essence of a place in my artwork. Beneath the narrative of memories lies the concept of my search for belonging [..]. My work shows places that I feel connected to and serves to document, to evaluate and to remember. 
The following show samples of mapping information gathered by questioning residents living around a railway station, they’re based on interviews, and trace back the interviewees experiences of or activities that link them to a railway station in Beirut .



Olivier Ruellet is a multimedia artist, educator, researcher, urban wanderer and traveller. He explains the image above in the following way: Memory-Map is a work about representations of time and place through memory, leading to the formulation of a psycho-topological chart putting in relation inspiring places, events and affects. This work consists of a personal mental map that borrows the design of a classic underground map, with its reticulated, colour-coded symbols and visual aids. This map covers a half-factual, half-fictional territory that is derived from the physical arrangement of the places it aims to represent; but this geography is distorted, altered by personal memories. The diagram uses in fact actual place-names mixed with fanciful and personal associations, telling of a personal system of affects where inter-relations are evidenced using a network reminiscent of transport links, organising cognition and fantasy along spatio-temporal dimensions, and providing a vehicle to cope with past and present experiences of geography as well as beliefs and expectations about places as yet unvisited or never to be visited. Each line either corresponds to an outstanding trip made litterally, or connects to the symbolic or the imaginary. The name and key to each line suggests an underlying plot, laying out a grid of potential events where place is rewritten as potential story.
In the USA Duke University students on their ‘Personal Geographics’ course are using mapping as a structure for applying informational graphics to self-identity and interrelating personal experiences with data. In these three examples students use their memory of the journey to school as the starting point for mapping.



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