Memories, don’t fail me now

I seems that I’ve dreadfully miscalculated the number of process blogs that I believed I’d posted.  And now I’m left to do what we weren’t supposed to do — play last-minute catch up!

In a rather interesting way, however, I think this applies to the way that memories are playing a central role in my mapping.  Memories are fungible, fuzzy and funny things.  In this case, my memories have little to do with fact (whoops!).  In the case of the memories of graffiti writers, they too can have little to do with fact.  It’s a bit revisionist in both cases.

It’s been a real challenge for me to navigate the lack of detail in the stories of graffiti writers, within the context of a mapping project contingent upon detail.

Or is it contingent upon detail?

In a way, the constraints of URT have led to a very creative solution that, I hope and believe, lends to the spatial argument I’m trying to make.

It was through Rory’s work with Danielle’s Fluxus project that I realized the “relationship” layer would be the best solution to my problems.  I know where the train lines are, and I can map this.  I know where many of the yards and layups are, and I can map these.  But the graffiti writers and their works navigate throughout, even hover over this space.

For example, in the book Getting Up: Subway Graffiti in New York by Craig Castleman, I found the text of an interview with one of the more prolific subway writers, LEE, regarding the rare whole-train masterpiece that he did with his Fabulous Five crew.  In the interview, he vaguely mentions going to a layup in Coney Island, and that the piece ran on the 4 train.  But even within this same story, as he talks about chasing the train, the stops along the line don’t indicate it’s the 4 train.  In other places where this whole-train work is mentioned, it seems to be the 2 train.  And then when you look closely at some of the few photos available, you can see “East 241st White Plains, New Lots Ave, 7th Ave Express” on the signs of the subway car, which was indeed the route of the 2 Train in that time period.

Drawing “data points” from this story and placing it on a map is difficult to me.  But within the relationship layer, or “memory” layer as I’m calling it, I can create a link to the 2 Train and to LEE, and perhaps even to the Coney Island Yard.  Essentially, unless you’re scrolling through the various records in my project on URT, you can’t gain access to the memory or the writer until you’ve looked into the location.  You have to “enter” the space, before you can “enter” the memory.  It’s a bizarre solution, and one that I wasn’t very comfortable with in the beginning.  But it’s grown on me, and I think it may enhance the spatial argument.

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