I began my project, Maps of the Imagination, wanting something more than a traditional map. I believed that if I asked others to draw a map of an intangible place, of somewhere they had to imagine completely, the results would be fascinating and a challenge to interpret.
I summarized my trouble with asking others in the introduction of my atlas:
To illustrate how maps are more abstract and more personal than popular belief, I asked twelve people to create a map of his or her imagination. The task was not easy; the participants, including myself, all struggled with how to portray something in a tangible form that doesn’t literally exist (at least in the way that each of us could see it, with our eyes). I did not give any instructions about how to create the map outside of using a sheet of paper. Mo matter how confused the participant looked or how many questions they asked, I would not clarify the information any further. In this way, their responses would not be influenced by my own conception of an imagination.
Many people asked me for clarification and I simply refused it to them. Each map turned out different and wonderful in its own way. However, the maps all followed similar trajectories, falling into one of four categories:
- Maps that looked like maps, either by identifying specific locations or by incorporating roads,
- Maps that depicted a single image and needed to be interpreted with semiotics,
- Collage maps of words or images, the latter also needing to be interpreted with semiotics, and
- Maps that tried to reach for something larger, expressing the abstraction of the imagination.
Once I identified these categories, I could fit the individual maps into each one and analyze them based on readings from Turchi, Wood and Hall. Finding the quotes themselves was initially challenging, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed by rereading and searching for specific keywords.
After this, the only struggle I encountered was formatting the words and images next to each other in Word before changing the whole atlas into a pdf. Like most things outside of text in Word, there was only one way to put an image on a page by itself: multiple page breaks and columns. I can proudly say that I will be better at this the next time around, however. I have Word figured out and can reproduce the work much faster.
All in all, I like how the Atlas turned out. The maps given to me by others were more than I could hope for, and each one helped to solidify the points that the authors were trying to say about maps. In the future, I’m going to look at maps with a much more critical eye.