The publication of the sixth edition of Dispatx Art Collective, which coincides with a complete redesign of the website, continues the practice of bringing together exciting original works from a diverse group of contributors. Curating and developing works from poets, photographers, painters and writers, for this edition we once again present an extremely diverse set of responses to the notion of Improvised Maps. These works include a dozen projects developed online over the last five months and seven additional submissions.The Improvised Maps theme has a particular relevance for the work of Dispatx. Notions of connectivity, exploration and interpretation have strong correlates in the approach of the website, where public interaction with both ongoing and completed works serves to promote creative inquiry on collective, collaborative and individual scales. The theme also associates strongly with the creative method – the organising process that translates creative vision to creative product – the visibility of which is so important to what we do.
Each published project relates to the Improvised Maps theme in different ways, and there are similarities in approach and form between many of them. All projects demonstrate a methodological relation to the theme, some having made this relation more pronounced. By constructing a work using base materials over which the author had limited control, both Karen O’Rourke’s Eavesdroplets and Lawrence Frith’s Verso-Recto demonstrated improvisational techniques inherent in any creative practice in an exaggerated manner. The title of Frith’s piece suggested a method that is, from the outset, back-to front, or at least interchangeable in its direction. Any initial emphasis on contrivance in method in these projects eventually made the manoeuvrability and adaptability of the artists that more apparent. In effectively forcing correlations between sources, piecing a puzzle together, these two projects relate to (LIS) by Miguel Aguirre Vega. The artist’s process was based on the classification and publication of objects that formed part of his experience in the Portuguese capital. In the final presentation he shows us his attempt to organise his recollections in order to recreate step by step his first and last impressions of this distant, almost alien city.
A similar approach of retrospective rearrangement was employed by Denis Masi in Stories. By making considered alterations to a series of photographic triptychs, ultimately opening up sub-triptychs, Denis was able to coordinate subtle reformulations of deceptively simple compositions. The complexities of the images were gradually fine-tuned until more and more layers of narrative potential emerged, intentionally playing with our natural inclination to read into such sequentially suggestive images. This expansion of sequential order, and the references to cinematic freeze frames, forms a central part of another work exploring the construction and dismantling of an event. Christine Rusche’s Snatch, a photographic account of the brief existence of an installation – a room drawing that creates a kind of imploding landscape, a conflagration between planes and vectors, the virtual and the actual – supplies obtuse, almost poetic captions to the stages of this strangely hallucinatory overlaying of ‘impossible’ perspectives. It further reinforces the concepts of narrative mapping emphasised in Denis Masi’s project.
Metron 06 is a project that, in addition to exploring ideas of orientation and measurement, documented a residency period in a city art gallery. This external activity presented the artists Diane Jones-Parry and Annabel Ralphs with a ‘partner’ space with its own parallel approach based on an entirely different register of method and presentation. Also exploring this notion of method registers, Santiago Roncagliolo’s Honestidad Brutal (Brutal Honesty) presents a narrative essay that reflects on the effects that blogging can have on a writer’s style. The essay becomes an account of how the writer’s established working practice was disrupted by factors made visible through his blogging practice.
The collaboration of Enrique Vila-Matas, Suicidios Ejemplares (Exemplary Suicides), is a powerful synthesis that reflects not only aspects of the Improvised Maps theme, but also one of the motifs of his work – the different maps that can be extracted from a city, the routes, the points that become references. We can observe the expanded development of this concept in Eli Goldstein and Kjersti Wikstrøm’s Transcendence. This project used the resources of a socialised internet offered by Dispatx in an exhaustive manner. The artists, each located in a different city, used the site as a bridge for collaborative work, relating also to other artists working on the Improvised Maps theme and taking full advantage of public interaction and commentary. The project constructed matrices of personal location using a large series of references, constituting place through psycho-cartographic asides and unifying dispersed designs of two vibrant cities through preconceptions, perceptions, images and scale models of the place itself. It is clear that what is demonstrated is that the improvised is closed when information is organized and the connections within it become evident. When browsing through this project, one can get a sense of a labyrinthine city, a metropolis constructed from the personal experience of each of the artists from fragments of Berlin and New York.
An interpretation of mapping in relation to the cataloguing of material, broadly reflecting on the notion of historical archives and their implications for recorded history, is observed in Royalties_naturalistas | Archive_Gay by Cristián Gomez Moya. The resultant distillation of this research, holographic images of Chilean flora and fauna, function like new icons that symbolise the amplitude of the existing archive – to represent the representation of a country and a culture. Investigating a specific event from new perspectives, or through previously unconnected sources, formed a important part of Wildfire by Andrea Brady. From significant background research, the author presents a long poem, remarkable in its use of imagery and language, which also provides a platform from which the reader is able to access the interconnected material that formed the basis of its composition.
Presented as a possible area of investigation when the theme was announced, correlation has been explored in two music-based projects, Fluence by Dominic Lash and David Stent and Recording Exchange by Jeff Thompson, either in any correspondence between score and sound or between specific instructions and free interpretation. Though both projects worked with groups of improvising musicians, Recording Exchange initially developed as a mail-art project that charted unseen intervals in order to use them as the basis for a musical performance in New York. The scores were the output of paper recording devices, much like magnetic tape – the carbon paper acting like the particles of iron oxide. The performance of this piece in a gallery space has clear parallels with Metron 06, where, in collaboration with some of the musicians involved with Fluence, specific pieces of music were performed in the exhibition space. In Fluence, the contrast between precise instructions and a free reading of the projected graphs produced an interesting tension between immediate, ephemeral interpretations of the lines and the notion that one must to be able to ‘read’ the same information in some way in order to respond.
In Lie of the Land, John Goto interprets the theme of Improvised Maps using a process of seamless and informal juxtaposition, referencing the technology of Google Earth. Satellite imagery and political comment strike a balance with personal reflection and wry humour. On a completely different scale – moving from images of outer space to inner, cellular space – is Daniel Canogar’s Intimate Mappings. The work consists of an installation that displays magnifications of the body, spaces so internalised and abstracted that we ourselves cannot recognize them even when they are presented on perceptible scale. Using a kaleidoscope of microscopic forms, colours and textures related to the human reproductive system, the work contrasts a shared biology with notions of privacy.
Icy Cold, a short narrative by Barbara Rosenthal, describes a journey in which it is difficult to reconstruct the situation of the protagonist. The story does provide a mental map, a spirituality generated by the rhythm of the writing as much as by the imagery it describes. Palabras_, a web-based project developed by Sharon Daniel and a group of collaborators, relates back to Transcendence in its recognition of the possibilities of the internet for collaborative work on an international scale. The project explores the ways in which the tools of socialized internet can be helpful in establishing both online and offline communities. Another project using the internet is NYSoundmap, developed by, amongst others, Andrea Polli, Michelle Nagai and Andrea Callard. The project focuses on the sound world of New York City and works to develop diverse forms of participation within the local community in order to establish an organic, evolving sonorous map of the city.
The nineteen projects included in this edition constitute a metamap of the Improvised Maps theme. The projects have been organised using a number of improvised forms and share a number of references to specific notions highlighted in the theme. These points give us some indication of a general trajectory to the edition. The organization of the projects also functions as another way of analysing concepts such as archiving and cataloguing, which can be clearly observed in this text. The level of collaboration in this edition has been more visible than in previous issues and has operated on diverse levels. The artists have shown a great capacity to absorb the processes of others over a period of intensive development, including the contributions made by visitors in comments and suggestions, providing viewpoints and interpretations that otherwise may not have occurred to the artists.