Counter-Mapping (working title)

Towards a Relational Infrastructure (2022-2023)

Since autumn 2022 a group of people comes together, consisting of Ciel Grommen, Loes Jacobs, Maximiliaan Royakkers, Clémentine Vaultier, Vermeir & Heiremans and Elephantmappers. With this partnership, we are developing a cartographic portal. In a text we have written together we opened up our process of collaborating: finding out what the map will become by identifying common goals and values, working through the different ideas and visions, needs, disagreements, etc. Below some excerpts from our ongoing dialogue.

-Taking the form of a walk, a bus- or bicycle ride, our intangible artistic practices often are very momentary. Being site- and time-specific, the momentum of the work is often that moment, a shared experience of a place and a narrative with a public. In many cases there is little or no documentation. For those who were not there our practices remain invisible, almost non-existent.

-One of our initial reasons to develop a digital mapping tool is to have the ability to archive intangible artistic practices and thus promote their agency and visibility. But a map is not only a 2D representation of space. It is also a container of code. Collectively learning about map-making reveals its underlying structures and hidden hierarchies of power.

-At one point our ideas started to evolve from a map as an archive of our practices toward the notion of a relational infrastructure. It would contradict our embodied practices for the map to be reduced to a geo-localized archive of images, documents, texts, etc. However practical this would be, we needed to come to a map that could also account for other aspects than geo-localization, aspects that are important in our practices such as the passing of time, the encounter with other people, the possibility of telling stories, generating narratives, activating histories, the natural or cultural elements we engage with, as well as specific sounds and smells.

-There are still more questions than answers, as we are in the middle of the process of trying to create a mapping tool together. Can we say that we achieved already another level than a pure functional map? Indeed, we have been discussing a lot about agency, collaboration, creating a federated infrastructure without losing our ‘individuality,’ instead trying to find common values, aiming for cooperation, mutual support and emancipation.

Lost and Found, and Lost Again (While Addressing a Herd of Elephants in the Room) will be published in Techniques Journal, spring 2023.