Sunday, June 5, 2005

The Photographemic Map

I started with a simple impulse to document the park.  I walk through Thornden Park almost every day; it's familiar, safe-seeming despite the well-circulated commonplaces about the park's hazards: the "don't-go-alone" and especially after dark. 

Lilac GroveI wanted to present the lilac grove (on the north end of the park) as an alternative to the groomed and showy E.M. Mills Rose Garden on the southwest corner, the point nearest the Syracuse University campus.  The lilac grove, by its location, is obscured, tucked away in a thicket; the named rose garden, on the other hand, is emblematic of Thornden Park.  And it is precious--maybe a formal apology for the half-policed expanse that is not the rose garden, that is, instead, a scene of litter with a mythic robbery-threat, an occasional homicide (one in the year we've lived in NY, anyway). 

Before moving here from Kansas City last summer, I couldn't get an impression of the park.  I had a hunch that it'd be ideal to walk to work every day through the park, but that prospect was countered by the faint inhibition I've tried to describe--the park's reputation.

The E.M. Mills Rose Garden gets daily attention, except in the winter when everything is wrapped tightly in burlap.  There's special parking for the workers who attend to it, trimming, fertilizing, great-pains rose-growing.  The lilac grove takes care of itself.  The rose garden has benches, a gazebo; wedding parties stop there for elaborate photos.  The lilac grove: no seating, no paths to it or through it. 

To present the lilac grove, I carried my camera one day, walked a slightly different route than the direct one I usually follow from home to campus.  Continuing through the park, I snapped a few more shots; they're unfortunately ordinary photos.  Nothing in them is "found" except the park itself.  And the "found"-ness of the park is, as should be no surprise, personal.  The lilac garden gives the routine pass through the park a distinctive new dimension; the rose garden isn't "it" (I never believed it was, even before I knew the lilac grove; rose garden: all genteel, all the time).

The photographemic map is an experiment.  I'm satisfied with this iteration for the successful layering of Cmap tools, Google maps, and photos housed in Flickr; I'm dissatisfied with the lack of imagination entered into play.  I have two versions here: a drawn and labeled street map and a satellite map.  The photos are Cmap nodes with thumbnails as backgrounds (w/o text labels).  On the primary level--same as the miniaturized photos--are the paths: yellow is the route from my neighborhood to SU.  Blue, alternatives (either hillier or longer).  The Google maps are backgrounds, too; by trading them out, I was able to keep all of the nodes--image markers, paths, trails, etc., in relatively stable positions.  In other words, it was easy to make the second map.

With each of them, I rendered jpg files from Cmap, then drew hot spots with links to the corresponding Flickr photos in Dreamweaver.  Result:

Rose Garden Rose Garden Sports Field Amphitheater Courts Playground City Pool Playground Lilac Grove Lilacs Lilacs Rose Garden Rose Garden Sports Field Amphitheater Courts Playground Playground Lilac Grove Lilacs City Pool

But there's more, and it gets better (for anyone interested in this sort of thing).  I didn't know it before undertaking all of this, but the notes function in Flickr allows for hyperlinks, so you can upload the image and build the hotspots into the Flickr labels.  Here's what came of that effort (I only bothered applying it to the satellite view):

Thornden Park: A Photographemic Map

That's about it.  I was just thinking about other projects involving imaginative photographemic maps (a coinage I twisted from Barthes' biographeme).  Maybe it lends some interesting possibilities to memory maps. As time allows, more to follow...heh, follow.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at June 5, 2005 12:25 PM to Distances

v cool!

Posted by: collin at June 5, 2005 6:43 PM

Fantastic! Very much what I was thinking about in terms of imaginative rhetoric/imaginative space. You've brought together several writing technologies and put them to work together. I like what you're doing. I should do one as well.

Posted by: jeff at June 6, 2005 10:01 AM

aaaah. I would love your lathe background if I didn't just spend an entire weekend ripping plaster and lathe out of your second floor.


And I echo the v cool. You're a pioneer. I'm right behind ya.

Posted by: madeline at June 6, 2005 7:08 PM

Yea! Cool!!! I will be doing something similar soon!!!

Posted by: Jenny Edbauer at June 7, 2005 7:42 PM

Glad you all liked this iteration. Lots of other, more imaginative possibilities. The free apps and the ease of switching out a background or shifting the map structure seem to me to be promising sides of the project. I'm eager to see what others come up with.

I dropped out the lathe background, M., replacing it with this starry variation. Switch back to grey?

Posted by: Derek at June 7, 2005 7:44 PM