I am the place where I am

«This project—a map of Providence onto which I have transposed symbols of aural memories of place—explores the possibilities of bridging the gap between public space and personal space. Generally, a city map provides symbols representing streets, buildings, parks, etc. My map provides subjective representations of my personal memories of place, inviting its users to visit the place, revisit my memories, and experience their own auditory sense of place. The complexity of this project is intentional—it mirrors the complexity of our strong, layered memories in relation to time and place.

To begin the project, I took a map of a one-by-two-mile expanse of Providence and divided it into a grid of 15 squares, labeling them on each axis in numbers and letters. The grid is not only a spatial marker but represents different times in which I had 14 memories—I do not have a memory for one of the squares—which happened between yesterday and one year and three months ago, in locations ranging from the Providence Place Mall to Wickenden Street. I gave each of these memories a theme. For instance, I recall an “Aesthetics of Slowness” on day B4, and I recall “Thursday Island” in the square on day C2. Narratives of each of these memories are included in a book enclosed within the folded map as a cover. Finally, I invented a graphic system of tincture-pattern circles to represent each memory. (Tincture is an encoding system that indicates qualities through varying black-and-white patterns.) These are both imprinted on the map and installed at the actual site of my memory.

On my map, there are no street names, no numerical values, but only traces of movement and sound patterns. In Korea, people do not use street addresses to identify locations, they use landmark associations such as buildings or restaurants near the destination. With this project, I hope the map-user will recognize landmarks like the canal in downtown Providence, and then associate it with my memories. Why? Because interaction between people and place encourages a less isolated experience within a city. Encoded and systemized features are a means to support the audience to speculate, explore and elucidate their own connections. First, travelers try to imagine my sense of space and sound by decoding complex symbols. Second, they engage the public space, perhaps asking other travelers if they have seen the tincture-pattern signage. Third, the audience invents their own memory, comparing my audible memory to the actual sound of the space. With the assistance of this map book, a traveler can form various direct and indirect relationships with people and places.»


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