[ISEA2017] Paper: Fabian Leotteau — Mental maps of traditional fisherman in the Caribbean Sea


Keywords: Traditional fishermen, Fishermen of Old Providence, Taganga and La Boquilla, Colombian Caribbean Sea, Mental maps; Natural Signs, Empirical knowledge, Oral Histories, Paths, Ideological patrimony, Drawings, Metalanguage, Marks/Points, Sensory Image.

Traditional fishermen of Old Providence, Taganga and La Boquilla, Colombia rely on mental maps as a tool to identify the best locations to fish. Fishermen read natural signs and use geometry, arithmetic and images in the mind to create mental navigation maps for fishing in the Caribbean Sea. Life experiences provide the empirical knowledge to create oral stories and life histories in the development of mental paths in the minds ideological patrimony of the fishermen. These mental paths, revealed by the researcher-artist through drawings visualized, form a metalanguage that has its own visual codes, a visual alphabet and a glossary of images.

This investigation is from the perspective of a visual artist, understanding and interpreting how mental maps contribute to the creation of mental navigation maps upon which the traditional fishermen of Old Providence, Taganga and La Boquilla depend, to locate optimal fishing. The fishermen read natural signs by identifying ocean currents and the color of the sea, analyzing wind direction, the moon cycle, solar position, and even how flying birds approach the beach. Paths are made in the sea by using three fixed reference points on the shore. Geometry, arithmetic and image are often unknowingly applied as the fishermen navigate the Caribbean Sea using empirical knowledge to help them identify the optimum places to fish. This knowledge and ability, stored only in the minds of traditional fishermen, is passed down orally from generation to generation and is not recorded in any literature.

  • Fabian Leotteau (Barranquilla, Colombia), PhD Candidate Creation and Design (Arts, Science and Technology), Caldas University, Manizales, Colombia in agreement with Porto University of Porto, Portugal. President of Scientific Committee in TICAL2017 (Latin American Information, Communication, and Technology) and BELLA-T (Building the Europe Link to Latin America) project in The Meeting of eScience in Costa Rica. Projects in e-art, e-culture and e-learning and Advanced Network Technology. Creator and Director of Anilla Cultural de Colombia (Colombian Cultural Network) in RENATA (Advanced Academic National Technology Network). Creator and Director of ARCURED (Art and Culture Network) in RENATA and RedCLARA (Latin American Cooperative of Advanced Networks). Masters in Caribbean Culture Studies. Art & Technology, Visual Art, and Curator of Visual Art. Cultural Management. Research Director of VIDENS (Caribbean Visual Research Group). Researcher-Artist and Professor, Atlantic University.

Full text (PDF) p. 29-38