What is not a map?
Like a map, technologies are built atop previous ones: if the telegraph was the first ‘screen,’ then the telephone followed, and in succession and a spiral, others were overlaid, such that the internet could be conceived more than a century ago.
Maps are guides, remembrances. Maps are merely outlines, the gaps we live in, morphing peripheries between perspectives, perhaps political regimes.
What is not a map?
To ask this question, like a veto, aids in imagining what a map might be.
Ten artists grapple within synergistic themes for Earlid’s annual Liminal Sounds: short sonic compositions and a radio signal envelope boundaries. Studies in war and pandemic data and stolen airwaves arrive to the ear in sinewy ways; there’s a peek at an imaginary island; the outlines of home and bodies evolve; radio tuning becomes a drawing tool; webs of circuitry interfere.
Cartography is like dreaming in its alleged projections or correctives. So many tendrils dance and loosen their way towards solidification. Still, the frame, the scenes and boundaries are recast.
Dreams arrive as a whiff. This one left trailing three words for the curator: rock, wave, tumbler.
These utterances melted on the tongue’s tip and became an atlas of aesthetic meanderings.
Though rocks can also be static, it is the see-saw oscillation of all three utterances that guides the organizing conception of What is not a map? into this ensemble.
We have tried to pin down the unmappable and all we have is movement:
A wobbly goblet or an acrobat? a waggle, a swing, a swish-shake? a roll, a pitch, a plunge?
Cartopsychosis, proposed by inventive writer Tom McCarthy, is a kind of liminal stance, the truth not only of geography, but also of identity, a being—like a Google map of warped coastlines, kinked highways. There are glitches in the software.
A map is re-drawn. Listen.
Gesturing like a sputtering, live signal to this sonic artistry is the temporal threshold of radio cegeste 104.5 FM and its polyphonous collaborations including ROAD MAP: State of Disaster, which traversed many twines since its inception in 2020 within Melbourne’s postcode 3031.
Microcast across the FM frequency of a neighborhood, this nomadic project expands in numerous directions, particularly curtailed in the parabolic spaces of one of the longest lockdowns in the world.
a shelter for the moment, but outlasting it
Like a map, McIntyre used Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) as a multi-part transmission of poetics across two weeks in September 2021 and again as a longer radio festival edit.
“Drawing on the relentless “doomscroll” of local pandemic statistics as a prompter for a daily algorithmic re-reading of the 1722 text, each morning in Melbourne, the number of positive local Covid-19 cases and the number of days the city had been in lockdown were triangulated. This mechanism was then used in selecting and producing a daily double-reading of a Defoe passage, as voice and Morse code,” reports McIntyre of the project, with a title that is itself a ‘translation’ and homage to other wartime broadcasts, real and imagined: .–. .-.. .- –. ..- . / -.– . .- .-. (plague year) .
What is not a map? features …
Images, like the 1901 internet map above, the brain-map below—based on anticipated money-making—and others noted throughout, are drawn from Mapping It Out: An Alternative Atlas of Contemporary Cartographies (2014), edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist, introduced by Tom McCarthy, and featured at The Serpentine Gallery/London for Edge: Map Marathon (2010)
— Joan Schuman, spring, 2022