Map Orkney Month
My first thoughts for the Public Archaeology 2015 project were to keep things low key and small scale and to work intensively with a few members of the public over my month to explore places significant to them through walking and mapping. Then I came up with Map Orkney Month and things got (relatively) large scale!
Map Orkney Month will attempt to create a new map of the Orkney archipelago based on everyday journeys, significant (or un-significant) places, walks, driving etc. These journeys will be mapped using basic hand held GPS receivers used to record tracks. During recent projects I have been interested in using the archaeological walkover survey as a tool to investigate contemporary archaeologies, materials and events using GPS to record this process. Walkover surveys are low tech landscape surveys commonly employed by archaeologists to characterise the cultural heritage resource in a given area by walking, basic GPS mapping, making notes and taking photographs. I’m interested in using walkovers as a methodology in their own right, and the creative potential that this encompasses, rather than a first stage or baseline assessment for other archaeological work. I’m also interested in exploring the idea of rural contemporary archaeologies to balance the focus on urban areas in Contemporary Archaeology and see where this leads.
So, Map Orkney Month will effectively be a large scale public walkover survey, but in this case the mode of transport will be widened to include bikes, cars, boats and islander planes in order to broaden the scope and accessibility of the mapping process. I hope this will capture movement and journeying between places, as well as the places themselves, and help create a new alternative map. Participants would be encouraged to visit – and record by walking / cycling / driving – a single site or experience of their choice; but their contribution will be left largely up to them. Places may or may not include heritage sites. Each participant will have a GPS for one day and leave it running the whole time. I hope to have about 5 GPS on the go throughout the month or people can use their own. Participants will be asked to photograph/film the journey or site/experience or write/record a short description of their journey and chosen site. Most of the gestures in each participant’s track will be small scale, personal and perhaps only recognisable to them, however combined they would create new multi-vocal cartography.
I have yet to work out the finer details and the above guidelines may change as I think about the idea more; logistics will certainly be key in trying to get GPSs between islands and keeping track of the data. The resulting text could be turned into some kind of diary to accompany the map. I think it’s important to let the mapping lead itself and leave it relatively open. I’m excited about the prospect of a map that makes itself (with a little bit of help).
I’m keen to hear if anyone has heard of projects like this in an arts context or had experience running similar public mapping projects on a (relatively) large scale.