Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mapping a history of stories

10 years ago, for leisure, i started collecting stories walking circles around the block in the vicinity of Caffe Vivaldi (32 Jones, NYC) and even once bumped into a history teacher doing so. From word of mouth, people who lived here started to send stories to me. 

5 years ago, i started to compile and map them. Caffe Vivaldi is where 100,000 artists have sung and where i had been chronicling stories for years. 

Our adviser Vamsi Sistla (birthday today) who once worked for TV Guide (launching its first app) suggested i expand and study Union Square and a place we both knew (Mercer Kitchen). 

This sparked the expansion of studying stories on location. 

I then became interested in stories up Broadway, the spinal history of NYC. 

Broadway is where New Yorkers share stories most (measured by tweets)....also true for historical archives pre-Twitter. This was an illustration by Eric Fischer showing where people shared stories most using Twitter data. I suspect story-telling and urban growth are guided by public transit behavior.

I went up 5th Ave next, then every avenue, then every numbered street, then every un-numbered street. Then i followed New Yorkers, the Beat Poets, to San Francisco and studied stories there. 

This expanded to mapping my entire archive of photos curated daily over 5 years then (now 10 years) and branching into movie scenes.  Other categories included mapping art, inventions (digital investments), music history and notable books. Bob Giraldi who was involved in Mercer Kitchen was then mapped for where he directed the video for Michael Jackson's Beat It and Say Say Say with Paul McCartney. Where Beatles songs were written got mapped (and so on). 

For 2-3 years, i started mapping biographies daily on birthdays and death anniversaries.  Astrological patterns emerged. 

With greater depth, these stories started to connect and form patterns worldwide illustrating the behavior of creativity and history - how people intersect and how moments burst into life. 

These stories paint the topography of a place. A new kind of cartography.