and I stopped by Mindport
. They had this beautiful art piece which consisted of a table with Lummi Island painted on it. Little poems were embedded in the water around the island, and all over the island itself were scrolls of paper, cut to different lengths to imitate the relief of the island. The artist had written little poems, presumable from the different points on the island, on different days, and filled the map of the island with them. There was even a gentle arc across the water for the ferry route.
I'm obsessed with combining storytelling and geography* (both manmade and "natural"), so I absolutely adored this thing.
There was one poem which held a subtle hint as to the artist's own experiences (sex on the south point!) but for the most part, the poems were more indicative of the immediate environment (e.g. moon rising over a pod of orcas). It presented the island in terms almost anyone could share. It was a map, pure and simple, that people could follow. The dates on each poem were indicative of the human experience behind the project, but I would love to see such a thing basically imposing a human life on the physical landscape, kind of like the historical markers they plaster over the hometowns of famous people, but instead of pointing out the high points of lives we already know (and really, it's like, they were born in that house. Who cares? Everyone's born.) you would just point out the everyday experiences of an ordinary person, leaving the viewer to puzzle out the gaps and figure out why this particular detail matters to that particular individual (or the individual presenting the life of the person. Two stories in one!)
Anyone who walks around town with me knows I love to point out places that I have some relationship to. If my work does printing for someone, I point it out. I point out my dentist, I point out where I used to live, the slope I used to run down with my friends in the middle of the night because it was a shortcut to the movies, but now it's a condo. I suspect my friends are both bored and wryly amused by this. But this is how I extend my indentity into the environment, how I make myself bigger than I am. I embed myself in this town. I love traveling and embedding myself in new places, and I love taking people back with me and pointing out my former experiences. Taking my old friend Ilsa to the Aran Islands and sharing my favorite place (Dun Ducathair!) with her was an incredible experience. This is how I share myself. Probably not very practical, since really, how much can you tell about me from, "we do printing for those people!" But meaning is like watercolor. You spread thin, almost invisible layer after invisible layer until suddenly you have a natural, intricate picture.
*I'm hoping to do this cool thing with one of my novels-in-progress where there's a mysterious, powerful, possibly villainous woman on an isolated, mountainous island, and she's the one who named everything there. Every mountain, every bay. So the main character who, like me, is obsessed with storytelling and physical space, sees the island a map to puzzle out that woman's life and figure out who she is. The protagonist is also an actress and likes the idea of the island being a stage she's living out her own story on, as well as nature as stage in general. She once made her troupe and audience slog all the way to the top of a volcano to put on a play on the crater rim. She didn't actually figure out what she was going to perform until she got to the top. For her, the trek was all a part of the adventure.