What is my work about?
My work is based upon maps and is about concealing and revealing information.
What were your inspirations?
I went to a talk for the 100 Years symposium in City Campus, Newport, where Mishka Henner showed us his work Dutch Landscapes, and spoke about his work. This work focused on Google Earth images and showed how the Dutch had tried to conceal things in their landscape using really obvious methods such as Crystalisation, an effect taken from Photoshop, and camouflage. As the viewer, you could see that this had been so obviously done that it really wasn’t doing much to conceal anything, you knew there was something there but didn’t know what. It made me want to find these places and visit them to see what was being hidden. It was this train of thought which led me to thinking about my project.
I also thought about Google Maps and websites such as the visit_________.com sites that many regions now have. Using such sites means that you can go to an area, sus it out and never have to actually travel there, and you can decide from what you have seen whether to go to the area or not. I thought that Pontypool would not benefit from such a way of viewing it as there is more to Pontypool than what is on the surface, there is history, architecture, green areas, walks, a folly, a shell grotto and so much more that you wouldn’t really get to experience just by viewing it on a screen. Pontypool is as much about the experience as it is the area.
What have you done to create your work?
I took a map of Pontypool and looked at several different methods of concealment such as hiding information with a biro, and thought about what information to leave in or take out. I came to the conclusion that using Photoshop would be good both for effectiveness and for how I wanted the finished piece to look. I decided to remove all the road names, and any writing that was on any green areas and any landmarks. I left in the canal, river and any other water. I also left in Pontypool Bypass.
What were your thoughts about your work?
By choosing to conceal street names and just leave in the Bypass, bringing the viewers’ attention to it, I hoped to highlight that Pontypool’s problems really started with the construction of it.
Maps are usually sources of information, a way to navigate a terrain, a way to decide what to visit and in what order, by taking this information away it becomes up to the person using the map to decide where to go, guess where they are and how to navigate, somewhat similar to a treasure map.
It is also about power someone said to me that having a map gives you power, which is something I thought about, and going back to Mishka’s Dutch Landscapes and then looking further into how things are concealed in maps, Japan and other places use the Clone tool and copy fields to drop over areas they want hidden in Google Earth. Doesn’t the power then go to the creator of these maps as they have the power to conceal information from the user? My work revolves around the idea of giving the power back to the map user, by taking away road information the user has to decide where they are, they have the power then to make choices based upon where they think they are, and they can discover, for themselves what Pontypool has to offer, perhaps even discovering things for themselves which they didn’t even know were there.
What do you hope to achieve with your work?
I hope that by creating maps that have little information on them and distributing them to the public, that they will use them to make their own choices regarding navigation of the town, relying upon them to find new places, discover things they haven’t seen before and view Pontypool in a new way. I hope that my work will ignite curiosity about the area and bring in people from other areas, generating much needed tourism for the area. Hopefully it will bring people back to Pontypool who will then start spending money, the people will attract new businesses , new businesses means less empty shops, less empty shops means less disrepair and that means that the whole town centre part of the area would be transformed once more into the thriving area it once was.
How is your work going to be presented and why?
I decided to use two formats for presenting my work; one is in the form of a map. The map will be credit card sized and fold out to A4 size which will make the map easy to carry around and refer to. The other form for my work will be postcards, a series of 4 different ones which focus on the four different sections of map, these can be collected as a series or can be mailed to friends so that Pontypool can be known in other places and shared with friends and family, hopefully creating further interest and attracting new visitors. Both of these formats are designed for easy distribution to the public.
There are other ways of presenting my work that can be considered, flyers, posters, banners, vehicle stickers (such as on the side of busses), in reality the ways of showing this work are endless.