Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography by Katherine Harmon and Gayle Clemans

Book Review

If you like maps, this is the book for you.  If you love maps, you will be in heaven! 

The book is thick and weighty, and every page is a delight. It contains work by over 150 artists or artist groups and is divided into 7 sections including Conflict and Sorrow; Animal, Vegetable, Mineral; Inner Visions.  There are also 5 longer essays about artists who work with maps.

It is almost impossible for maps not to have a political content, which is perhaps why I love them.  William Pope.L's 'The Great White Way: 22 miles, 5 years, 1 street (2002) is a documentation of the artist crawling across New York on his belly, in a piece that refers to immigrant history and the endurance required of African Americans to survive.  

Guillermo Kuikca, an Argentine artist who grew up during the brutal dictatorship of 1976-83, and who is featured in an essay, creates work which exposes a lack of human connection. While Brazilian artist Vic Muniz works with local youth to make huge installations depicting maps of the world, made from junk found in the surrounding area.

Qin Ga followed the Long March Project's recreation of the Long March, a 6000 mile journey across China which resulted in the rise to power of Mao Zedong, by tattooing the journey across his back. Paula Scher makes geographic paintings to help her deal with the overload of information.

The variety of work is vast, but the theme holds together and results in an inspiring and beautiful book.  Highly recommended!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Archiving for beginners!

Last week I heard that some friends had been burgled.  They didn't lose much considering the lovely art pieces they have been collecting over the last 15 years.  But they did lose their iMac.  My friends were very well organised and had everything backed up on an external hard drive. Which was also stolen!

I have a similar arrangement to them, computer on my desk, back-up drive next to it, the only two complete records of my work utterly vulnerable to a break in.

A lot of my work is in the form of installations, which means that photo's are my only record.  I have literally thousands of photos.  So the misfortune of my friends is the motivation I've been needing to get myself organised, archive my work and store it securely.

This is my strategy.

First I am going to copy everything, without any discrimination, onto CDs.  This will be my master archive.  I will keep the discs at my house, in a separate room to the computer.

Next I'm going to sort out my best images from those which are just records of process. These best images will be useful for publicity or applications, so I want them accessible. They will stay on my computer in named files, so that I can get at them easily. The process images, once they have been copied onto the master archive will be deleted from my computer - freeing up useful memory.

I'm also going make two copies of the best images onto CDs. One copy will be stored in my house, next to the master archive.  One copy will be given to a willing and responsible friend with whom I have a reciprocal arrangement.  We will each keep a copy of the other's best images in case of very thorough art-loving burglar or fire.

So my best and most precious images will be stored on my computer, and on my external hard drive back up, two further copies in my house, and an additional copy in my friends house.  Does that sound like overkill?  All I know is that it will be a big relief!

Now, what about you?