This project is about reflecting on the borders & boundaries we create ‘in our mind’, the concept of ‘self-inflicted boundaries’ and how our habits and routines keep us from going outside of our comfort zone. Moreover, it is a reflection on the borders imposed by politics and territory and the inequality between nationalities restricted in the freedom of movement.
The map is revealing itself in accordance to the places you have visited, encouraging you to reflect on the place you will have to discover in your life, expend your territories, as well as the one you will never have the possibility to see.
Mymap is a project exploring the concept of ‘borders’. This topic pop up when cycling in Inverleitn, Edinburgh. The two cycle paths going through the neighbourhood divide it into three different parts. These divisions coincide with the level of deprivation of the area, resulting in the path acting like a border within the community. The journalist Anna Minton, claims that divisions in the cities are a key factor behind rising fear of crime and that the link between security and discrimination is most distinct at the extremes of ‘the social spectrum’, in very wealthy or very deprived areas .
Bourdieu argues “physical space and social space have a lot of things in common and there is no space, in a hierarchical society, which is not hierarchies and which does not express social hierarchies” . I started wondering if the people from one side of the road go to the other side or are they staying within their territory ? I believe that we are creating our own borders by staying in your comfort zone: on our side of the cycling path. It can result to refuse to see the other side of the road how people are living, and by this missing rewarding life experience. This is without starting to think about situations in other country or continent, where it can be so far from the reference framework that it is difficult to identify to the situation or living condition. My feeling is that it is very easy to stay on a routine, ‘bury ours head in the sand’. It allows us to not called into question our behaviours and the impact of our actions in the society.
At this stage the challenge was to make more cohesion in this neighbourhood, break the invisible wall and by doing so breaking the hierarchy in the community.
My first idea was to visualise the invisible borders within the city. Where are these streets which divide a ‘healthy’ neighbourhood to a ‘deprive’ one. How can you make people aware of these ‘invisible’ borders? And by visualising them, could it help to make people aware of these disparities. To start I superposed the deprived scale map of Edinburgh on a satellite screen shot of the same territory. Then I traced on top each road which separate two areas: a healthy one to a more deprive one.
It gives a different vision of the town. When you see the maps with the colours, you see the territories. When you only have the lines, it is about seeing the borders, and by so creating reflexion on the concepts of: ‘crossing borders’, ‘walk in the territory of someone else’, ‘being curious of what is happening in the other side of the road’.
The final step was to convert these lines into ‘cloud’ or smoke, in order to make the borders visible. Fog and mist blur boundaries, and create mistery. I get inspired by the work of different artists as Cyprien Gaillard, Irby Pace or Berndnaut Smilde.
By expending these thoughts, I expend the scale of the reflexion and I start thinking about the inequality between nationalities in the freedom of movement. In the class we are 24 students with 12 different nationalities, all with different traveling rights. Some need a visa to visit Berlin, other not; for some it is an administration nightmare, when for other it is only a form on internet. I am obsessed with this idea that we are all human, all made of 70% of water: we are physiologically very similar. In contrast there is these huge inequalities on the planet The freedom of movement is one, another crucial one is that the world’s richest 1% own 40% of the world’s wealth).
This picture of Jose Palazon Osma, took on the border between Melilla (Spanish city located on the North coast of Africa) and Morocco sum up both ideas: the golf player keep playing while africans try to cross the border by climbing the fence. It gives a description of todays world: the inequality between people, our tendency to burry our head in the sand to stay in our comfort zone, and the freedom of movement issue.
Is developing empathy, be open to others would help to brake the borders we create? I believe that trying to ‘be in the shoes of someone else’, the experience, relate and understand others could help to be more open on the world surrounding us (on different scale). Moreover, this ‘other’ focus emotion (empathy) have the power to give an ‘ego-focus’ emotion (happiness) . Going out from our comfort zone to live new experiences, could fulfil our life more thoughtfully, and allow us to observe the word with open mind and a sense of detail.
From both reflection I propose a new app called Mymap, working on the concept to expend our territories and encourage to reflect on all the place we will have to discover in our life, as well as the one we will never see.
De Certeau argues that the act of walking selects and fragments the space traversed; it skips over links and whole parts that is omits. Moreover it can “be traced on city maps in such a way as to transcribe their paths and their trajectories. But these thick or thin curves only refer, like words, to the absence of what has passed by. A spacial order organises an ensemble of possibilities and interdictions, then the walker actualises some of these possibilities. In that way, he makes them exists as well as emerge.” . It is what the app is doing: revealing the choices taken, the places visited or the path used, while the rest is hidden behind a white layer.
This is the mockup of my idea.
In my head it was quite a simple idea (coming from a person who don’t have any experience in coding yet) but in application it has been quite difficult and several iteration of the app had been necessary.
First I thought it would have been possible to make a reverse heat map: instead of having colours appearing on a layer on top of the map, it would make transparent the white layer. In practice what was possible is to draw a white layer on google maps by giving the points clockwise then removing polygons from this layer by giving the point anticlockwise. It created a lot of different issues: closing the route every time we created a new point: drawing the territory and not the route; superposed polygons resulting on re-masking the map…
The solution came up with the discovery of hulljs. Using a complex algorithm, it draws around the GPS points the route.
The app uses phone gap, a free and open source framework that allows you to create mobile apps using standardized web APIs for web platforms as well as mobile app with the same code. The language is Java Script. To store the routs (even is it not possible yet with the current version) HTML5 Local Storage will be use. Google maps API, Cordova plugin geolocation and the GPS of the phone are used as well.
I am already thinking about a future version of the app. I would like to make the map appearing in different shade of colours: for example the area you use all the time (’your territory’: going to work and back home for example) would be tinted in red, whereas the one you visited only once would be blue. it would allow a better understanding of the territory.
1. Belic, R. (Writer). (2011). Happy.
2. Bourdieu, P. (1996). Physical space, social space and habitus. Vilhelm Aubert Memorial lecture, Report, 10.
3. De Certeau, M. (1998). The Practice of Everyday Life: Living and cooking. Volume 2 (Vol. 2): U of Minnesota Press.
4. Minton, A. (2009). Ground control. London: Penguin Group.