Based on an exhibition by artist Jeremy Wood
We travel more than ever before, but we often make no record of the journeys we have made or leave any traces behind us. Jeremy Wood, artist and map maker, has used personal cartography and GPS mapping to create unique artworks based on certain journeys he has made. One of his creations, 'Traverse Me', is a map of the 700 acre Warwick Campus drawn entirely on foot. We've put together a list of ten tips if you want to make your own foray into personal cartography.
Artist and map maker Jeremy Wood created ‘Traverse Me’, which was commissioned by The Mead Gallery at Warwick Arts Centre, over 17 days by walking the 238 miles around the University of Warwick’s 700 acre campus. He tracked his route by recording GPS data continuously, the results of which were the ‘Traverse Me’ map.
This is not the first large-scale project Jeremy has taken on. In 2008, Wood travelled 5414 miles by plane for his 'Star Flights' project, creating a drawing which featured a star over Europe mapping his flight path.
It is now easier than ever to record and visualise personal GPS data. Here are some top tips for total beginners who are keen to get mapping. If you already have experience of personal cartography then we would love to hear what tips we may have missed.
1. Plan – As with any project, planning is key. This is particularly pertinent when considering personal cartography. To illustrate, Jeremy Wood spent 68 hours on a plane to make his ‘Star Flights’ image. This project would have required meticulous time planning as well as budgeting.
2. Be well equipped – Ensure that you have the correct GPS equipment; it doesn’t have to be the most expensive but will need basic functions to be able to complete the task. Google Earth allows you to import your data so you can overlay it over satellite pictures or Google Maps. There are devices that you can buy specifically designed for collecting GPS data but a cheaper option might be to try out a mobile app if you have a smart phone.
3. Prepare to explain yourself - While walking his ‘Traverse Me’ route, Jeremy Wood was twice asked to justify his presence by campus security. It is advisable to inform the relevant parties of your presence to save any conflict!
4. Wear suitable footwear – Whilst creating ‘Traverse Me’ Jeremy Wood’s shoes turned both green and brown from the vast amount of grass and mud he had to walk through. Distance too is worth considering, as while creating Traverse Me, Jeremy Wood walked 238 miles!
5. Be prepared for any weather – In Britain we are used to changeable weather, but if you are focusing on a big project then weather needs to be considered. Think about waterproof clothes, thermal vests and, maybe more optimistically, sun cream.
6. Be creative – Follow Jeremy’s lead and use your GPS to create words and pictures in any empty spaces in the area. Jeremy created a compass and a mortar board in the fields surrounding the Warwick campus, making the entire image come alive.
7. Team up! – Your own cartography does not have to be completed alone, a group of people can help to create an image, cutting down on both time and distance – it can be a fun way to collaborate with a group, and this is a technique used by Wood in his education workshops.
8. New Perspectives - With ‘Traverse Me’, Jeremy Wood inspires the individual to see the campus in a more natural sense, rather than as the result of bricks and mortar. It is designed to inspire a personal reading of your own movement. This kind of activity will literally enable you to see the landscape in a whole new way, once you get back to your computer - think about this as you are walking around. Do you notice anything new about your environment? Do certain details now stand out more?
9. Start simple – Your morning commute may seem dull to you, but with a bit of imagination and a touch of creativity it can be made into art. Think about any landmarks you pass that you could incorporate into your design or any other sights that may inspire fellow commuters.
10. Think global – Although it seems like a much easier option to stick to a route you know, it can be interesting to explore further afield. Try taking your GPS away on holiday with you, and track any journeys you do – you may be surprised at the results. Don’t forget to document your journey through photographs too, as they are always useful to help you visualise the result of your hard work!
Do you have any experience of personal cartography or GPS mapping? Do you find it a useful of recording your travel data? If so we'd love to hear from you in the comments box below.
Jeremy Wood is a multidiscipline artist and map maker whose diverse work presents people and places in a playground of space and time.
He started GPSdrawing.com in 2001 to explore digital mark making on water, over land, and in the air. He makes maps of his movements to create a personal cartography by recording all his daily journeys with GPS. His work binds the arts and sciences by using the languages of drawing and sculpture to express notions of space and time.
Wood has conducted numerous GPS drawing and mapping workshops in schools, museums and galleries. His work is exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collection of the University of the Arts and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Wood holds an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martin’s in London and a First Class Fine Art Degree from the University of Derby. He was born in San Francisco in January 1976 and grew up in Berlin and England. He has a studio near Oxford and in Athens, Greece.
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