“Being a spectator of calamities taking place in another country is a quintessential modern experience, …” _From ‘Regarding the pain of others’ by Susan Sontag.
It is difficult to create a sense of equivalence in terms of impact and scale between what is distant and what is local. This paper discusses “transpositional mapping”–creating templates of events or circumstances that take place elsewhere and overlaying them on local spaces. This paper presents Shadows from another place, a series of transposed mapping projects that are discussed within a larger practice where hypothetical spaces are created in order to destabilize, recast, reinvent and reorder familiar ground.
Shadows from another place is a series of new mapping web projects using GPS coordinates, strategies of mapping and the web. The projects transpose foreign events onto local and familiar spaces, creating hybrid territories. These new, conceptual spaces reflect impact of distant and foreign events as though they were domestic. Places of dispute become the templates mapped upon other, undisputed and undisturbed locations. The impact of war, for example, or other political forces that reshape and redefine foreign lands, are overlaid upon local places that are otherwise untouched by these drastic and traumatic forces of change.
The first project in the series, San Francisco <-> Baghdad was instigated by the March, 2003 U.S. assault upon Baghdad. The impetus for the project was the question: What if the safety of distance between foreign and domestic territories collapsed, and the impact of foreign events could be seen, ?experienced? and grounded in local terms?
The second project, Separation Wall, Israel, is in progress. Using similar strategies, it maps and documents with GPS coordinates a segment of the current wall under construction in Israel creating a template that will be superimposed upon other locations. This project is currently in development with collaborators in Palestine and Israel.
These projects are discussed within a larger framework of radical mapping practices, both current and past, and new possibilities emerging with locative media.
- Paula Levine, San Francisco, California, USA. Visual artist, Associate Professor of Art teaching in Conceptual/Information Arts at San Francisco State University.