Provocation 3: Inefficient Mapping
Isabelle Stengers describes cosmopolitics as the intention “to slow down the construction of this common world, to create a space for hesitation regarding what it means to say ‘good’ ...[Cosmopolitics] does not lead to answers everyone should finally accept” (2005, pp. 995-996).
How are you being-in the pandemic?
How is your being-in the pandemic a particular situation and situating?
And how does that particularity of situation/situating create a cosmopolitics of a pandemic that is complex and different for everyone?
This provocation asks you to watch this video, and then to inefficiently map your situation and situating of being-in the pandemic. The collection will offer a cartography of the pandemic through its disruptions and continual challenges.
Stengers, I. (2005) The cosmopolitical proposal. In B. Latour & P. Weibel (Eds.), Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Linda Knight is an artist and academic who specialises in critical and speculative arts practices and methods. Linda devised ‘Inefficient Mapping’ as a methodological protocol for conducting fieldwork in projects informed by ‘post-‘ theories. In her role as Associate Professor at RMIT University, Australia Linda creates transdisciplinary projects across early childhood, creative practice, and digital media. Together with Jacina Leong, Linda is a founding member of the Guerrilla Knowledge Unit, an artist collective that curates interface jamming performances between the public and AI technologies.
Linda has exhibited digitally and physically in Australia, UK, USA, Canada, NZ, and South America and has been awarded arts research grants and prizes with international reach and impact, most recently this includes an Australian Research Council Discovery project that designs novel technologies for framing and enabling young children’s active play.
Eye of The Storm: an Observation of Movement from Isolation
I chose to base my project off the work of Linda Knight,and create inefficient maps of the places I’ve spent a significant amount of time in over the course of the pandemic. After finishing the sporadic sketches and observing the lot of them layered over each other, I noticed that even in crisis, with social distancing and the litany of other COVID restrictions, there is still an incredible amount of movement and interaction in the spaces around us. When I was outside (distanced by myself of course) or at home with my family, activity was more obvious. I marked any person I saw where I saw them, and even drew out sounds from people whether it be talking or footsteps along the ground. However even when I was by myself in either of the bedrooms I’ve been switching between since August, there was so much to take in that I’d never thought to acknowledge before. I found myself visualizing and drawing the relationships between light and shadow, drawing the glow of my computer, and even the sounds I heard from my various appliances or from right outside the door.
The pandemic has affected me and my living situationin many different ways over thepast year. I’ve had to move three times from one hometo another, and now my home is asacred place that I take sanctuary in. I’ve becomeaccustomed to being at home nearly all thetime and I try to make the best of it. Using a charcoalpencil, I decided to map out my smallapartment, as I go through each room: coming throughthe front door, going into the kitchen,visiting the restroom, and finally settling into mybedroom. This represents how far I’ve come toget here and how special it is to have a place tocall my own. I made three maps, changing upthe steps as they happen in my daily routine, andI will layer them over each other.
I knew almost as soon as I saw it that I wanted to respond to this provocation, but I did a littlemore research just to be sure.I went to Linda Kight’s website to find more informationand then looked further into google. Ifound a video where she explains her process and themeaning behind the inefficient mapshowcased on the pluralversity website.From that video I got a pretty good idea of how togo about creating an inefficient map.Then I pulled out a pen and some paper, closed myeyes and began to walk through thepandemic.I went through everything I remember, every feelingand day, and when I saw edges in theimages of my mind. I drew. My hand and mind’s eyeworked as one to create a map of the lastyear!Also I realized later that there was a linked video(somewhat hidden) on the site but I had foundthe same video by luck so it’s okay!
I decided to map out how my feelings/emotions progressively got worse throughout the pandemic as either more or less events started to happen, each flower represents either a day or even a week depending on many marks are mapped out on the flower as well as representing how the deep the events affects myself as a human being.
Mapping the Mind: the tangible edges of anxiety and joy
“Missing Reminders And Replacing Trails”
This Pandemic has tried everyone but I really felt it all come to a boil for me when my good friend from high school disappeared in 2021. I was already wearing thin from the deaths of the virus growing each day but when Khay disappeared I slowly began to fall from my window of tolerance. Everything became agitating. First it was the false information circulating online. Questions of Khay’s morality came into question, blurring help and lonely strangers’ theories together making it impossible to stay updated without becoming enraged by the thoughtless ness of commenters. I did a bit of digging recently on it and found that not only were his missing poster being taken down by unknown parties but the SARS search was severely ill managed. This has left his loved ones turning to the internet. I’ve seen some blogs talk on the strangeness of it all. But what bothered me the most in my search was the review section for the trail my buddy took that day, Weavers Needle. The most recent comment aside from the ones from Khay’s family begging to keep the posters up and to stay vigilant for any signs of him was a comment saying “Beautiful trail, not marked well at all.”
It all feels like too much to look at, the trail people are assuming he took before he vanished, the missing signs of a photo he’d hate to have shared around as much as it has, and images of the landscape that surrounded him that day.
This visual is the chaos surrounding the case, the loss his loved ones feel as we get closer to a year of now new information. This map is the ambiguous loss.
My pandemic experience is not regular and linear. I divided six main terms of my experience. In the beginning, everything was normal to me. I believe that it is a “temporary” situation. After I lost my friends, family members, and relatives, the reality of the pandemic has changed for me. My travel plans, field research, and educational activities were suspended. My life was changed without my will. Pandemic was not only a type of health problem for me; it was a type of secret power. The lines represent my feelings, not how the pandemic changed my life. I noted the important days that have happened since March 2020. I started to draw, and I changed lines based on my feelings on each date. It is a map, but at a point, it looks like the EKG of my heart, and each change represents a heart attack in my pandemic experience.
I want to showcase my timeline through, over a year now, how the pandemic has gone for me. My life has felt a little fuzzy since the start, so I wanted to use a background that reflected this. Using digital art, my mouse, and a blind eye I traced out from start to new beginning, where my life has gone. I have not personally experienced the loss of a loved one, I’m greatly thankful for this. Though, it was a time of rapid change for me. My job had me bouncing all over the city. I was locked down with my roommates, and made some wonderful memories. I worked through the entirety of the pandemic face to face with my neighboring people, in partial fear and uncertainty. I went through the biggest revision of my life since living away from family. A breakup that changed my life entirely. I found new work, new friends. I found a new community and family. The pandemic has been a time where I’ve been fearful, cautious, anxious, and frustrated. It has also been a time of love, understanding, rejoicing, and new journey’s. I show the highs, and lows in this picture. Closing my eyes for each movement. The colors depict moods during these different points in my emotional rollercoaster. Through the time I’ve lived in this world altering pandemic.
This was a response to Linda Knight, inefficient mapping. I was super interested in this provocation from the moment I read the first couple of instructions. Instead of reading the rest of the provocations I immediately started working on this one. This photo that was drawn was about my journey through the pandemic. I wanted to map out the emotions I was feeling on paper and so I did. I closed my eyes and begin mapping out what I felt at the beginning of the pandemic with a pencil. Those thin pencil lines were filled with confusion and eventually, I opened my eyes and saw the confusion I was first experiencing. Then I proceed with the mapping with a thick permanent marker. This was the anger and sadness I was mapping out. I had lost my grandmother during the beginning months of the pandemic and I was so saddened and angry by the loss. I began to draw my frustration of being in the pandemic during such a hard time and not getting to see other people made it even harder. My grandmother’s funeral was very small because of the high cases of COVID-19 and it was super upsetting not getting to celebrate my grandmother like she had wanted us to. The meaning of the thin pencil lines that represent my confusion can be a symbol because pencil lines are easily erased after one gains knowledge they are no longer confused. The permanent marker lines signify the depth of my loss and how it will always be permanent. The sadness and frustration that still remain to this day and how it’s something I will continue to carry for the rest of my life.
How am I being-in the pandemic? I am disabled. I am chronically ill. I am immunocompromised. And much of humanity and the world does not care while it spins and
spins and various strains of Covid-19 continue to circulate. My being-in the pandemic has been a stagnant waiting game, full of frustration. My particular situating has mostly been quarantined and following heavy precautions. I moved back to my parents house in the middle of a college semester and took a leave off of school on my doctor’s orders and have remained nearly as vigilant as that since March 2020. It is currently December 2021 as I write this. 629 days of waiting for the world to listen. During my situating in the beginning, I was not so angry and frustrated as I was sad and annoyed that a pandemic was going to take over my early twenties. There were mask mandates, people were talking about the creation of a vaccine, and they were listening to the truths and science and following safety protocols to protect themselves and others. There was some hope that everything would be under control within the year, and maybe even I could start participating in the world again. As time went on however, the following of safety precautions by most people declined in the face of denial and a selfish desire for normalcy. I call this selfish, but it is completely valid and understandable to crave to go back to the way things were; I do too. While it is normal to wish for this, actually being able to do so comes from a place of privilege
and it is ignorant to those around you. I personally think this should be acknowledged more because there are so many at risk- those who cannot get vaccinated, those with suppressed immune systems, the young and the elderly, and many more. Even the vaccinated can continue to spread the disease, and it is less effective or ineffective on some variants. This is why it is a problem that most vaccinated and unvaccinated people stopped wearing masks. Covid itself is perpetuated through this, and it is why we are experiencing so many variants. It is precisely why my life is still on pause, and I am fully trapped. Despite my bitterness, people themselves are not really fully to blame. They are living through a traumatic situation and coping the best they can, and the government itself (who should be modelling how to handle the situation) has removed mandates and requirements. This unsafe practice neglects marginalized peoples, (not a new occurrence in our history) and is one of the major reasons Covid is still as present and the reason
people are no longer taking it as seriously. This context lends itself to the particularity of situations that Knight mentions, the many different ways people are experiencing the pandemic. The particularity of my situation is more
severe then the majority of people in this time, but the overall situating definitely creates a specific cosmopolitics of the pandemic. It is complex and different for everyone, as is demonstrated by my story. The world literally had to slow down, shut down, and stop for a while there. Everyone was hesitant and did not know where this situation would lead. The lines between good and bad did in fact blur, and centered around an individual's experiences. This is demonstrated in my frustration at people for not wearing masks or being careful, while they believe they are fine and vaccinated. Realistically, they are fine, they are fairly protected from Covid, and my frustration comes from my own experiences, beliefs, and situations. No one is explicitly at fault or a bad person for how they are handling the pandemic, even if it is detrimental to my own wellbeing. There are no clear answers, no one predicted or has a how-to
on getting through a pandemic. The average person is doing what they have to in order to get through it and continue living their life. Not everyone can accept or find a single answer to the pandemic, it is unmapped, and not everyone accepts the different ways one may handle it. These differences are exactly what create a cosmopolitics of the pandemic. My personal bias is major in my response, although I feel it is justified, as everyone else’s actions and opinions directly impact my quality of life and literal wellbeing. To finalize the last component of the provocation, I have inefficiently mapped my situation and the situating of my being-in the pandemic. The protocols I followed included mapping my general experience first, and then some of my more personal experience. The general experience was mapped in pencil, detailing unseen challenges and physical things that
happened in the world. I decided to overlay a few maps pertaining the situation of the pandemic, and my being-in it. The cool colors were used to map the ideas I was sad about or that depressed me, while the warm colors mapped the moments and ideas I was angry, annoyed, or otherwise fired up during.
The biggest roadblock that I experienced throughout the pandemic was confusion, loss, and the insecurity that came with those. The first real, hard-hitting emotion I felt during the pandemic was when I found out I wouldn’t be able to run track that year. Looking back, it was a relatively insignificant loss, but it still mattered to me in the moment. This piece attempts to show that experience and the continued losses that would follow. The first “racetrack” I attempted was messy, but at least resembled something familiar; it wasn’t perfect, but it was sufficient. The next one was drawn in red, with my eyes close. I didn’t know where my pen was, nor did I know how much I needed to move my hand to make everything the right size. The finish line, that sense of accomplishment, was also greatly skewed from where it was expected to be. I also attempted to show where the two tracks intertwined: where I had at least gotten something somewhat right. I then ran around my room, did some jumping jacks, push-ups, and burpees to get my heart rate going. And then I tried to do the same thing with a pencil. With my eyes still closed, I could not make a proper track. So, I would erase it and try again. I never really got anywhere on the racetrack. All that ever happened was the finish line kind of shifted away and I never really figured out how to do it all right. This, of course, applied to my map, my track career, and my life after the pandemic.
The pandemic has been a little difficult in the start because it forced me adapt to this new lifestyle, where for school, I would sit in my computer, when I wanted to socialize with my friends, I would play games with them on the computer, and when I was looking for entertainment, I would still be at my computer. It was an endless cycle that I was slowly getting used to until one day I thought to myself, “is this really my life now?” After watching the video, I used paper and pencil to draw out a distorted version of me sitting at my desk, with my bed on the left and the rest of my desk on the right. This cycle of being on the computer all day and going to my bed to sleep at night made it feel as I was enclosed in this small corner.