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Michaela Prescott

Researcher / Landscape Architect

19

2

Singapore sling

2013-02-22 :: Opening thoughts

I moved to Singapore on the 3rd of January 2012. I saw this as a fundamental change that I needed to challenge myself with. At this point I'd been back in Melbourne, my hometown, for two years while completing my master course in landscape architecture and working in a multidisciplinary design practice. But I was also getting itchy feet. Feeling like I was getting too comfortable and not taking chances in my life. It seemed a too easy set of habits to become addicted to. Melbourne is a wonderful place... what can I say?

Singapore on the other hand I didn't know much about. I had Singaporean friends from university who gave me snippets of their lives to build impressions from, and I made the decision to leave Melbourne and travel to Singapore to pursue a PhD. 

I come from a travelling family. Both of my parents migrated to Australia as children from in the 60s. I was born in Melbourne in the 80s. Got my first taste of Europe in the 90s on a trip to meet my parents' families, and in the 00s my parents took my three brothers and I on a year long caravan trip around Australia. In '04 I  travelled to China on a school trip, and then went back again for more in '07. In '09, during the financial crisis, I found a job in the Netherlands and embedded myself in my mother's heritage.... All this and it's no real wonder I felt the need to leave again.

The project cover photo, included again above, is a map that had pride of place in the kitchen of the house I shared with two young men before I left. The map had been there for getting on 5 years, and was a living record of the lives of the people who'd passed through our home. Each resident would add an icon - be it a dot, cross, etc. - to the right hand side, and chart their travels. Below the map we pasted a postcard collection, records of places our friends and families had been to. I often stared at this map and imagined the journeys of these (some unknown) persons, and the adventures they must have had. And, when I left, I spontaneously added a marker of a different kind -- a 'post-it' note over Singapore reading "please stop here", an open invitation to the guys I'd come to think of as brothers to visit.

So thus, I arrived in Singapore with a traveller's thirst for wandering and discoveries. And this I did, gradually building up a knowledge of this city/country that even my local friends did not have. I've been keeping track, sporadically I admit, using my blog and a google map... but there are many times that I've hastily scratched maps on tissues, papers, and tables to describe various places, finding myself lacking in another adequate descriptive tool. I'm taking this exciting class as an opportunity to formalise some of these maps to share with friends and family when they visit, and to keep for myself too. I think and remember in journeys and chance meetings with strangers, and I hope I can bring some of this into my mappings....

2013-02-22 :: Some of my favourite books with maps

  1. You Are Here: Personal geographies and other maps of the imagination, Katherine Harmon
  2. The Map As Art: Contemporary artists explore cartography, (also) Katherine Harmon
  3. Atlas of Remote Islands, Judith Schalansky
  4. Envisioning Information, and others by Edward Tufte
  5. Taking Measures Across the American Landscape, James Corner, Alex MacLean and Denis Cosgrove
  6. An Atlas of Radical Cartography, Avery Gordon, Heather Rogers, Sarah Lewison and Maribel Casas
  7. Mappings, Denis Cosgrove
  8. The BFG, Roald Dahl ... for the opening of the mind to other (mapped) possibilities... read below:

"‘He’s leading us to disaster!’ cried the Head of the Air Force. He was shaking with fear. In the seat behind him sat the Head of the Army who was even more terrified.

‘You don’t mean to tell me we’ve gone right out of the atlas?’ he cried, leaning forward to look.

‘That’s exactly what I’m telling you!’ cried the Air Force man. ‘Look for yourself. Here’s the very last map in the whole flaming atlas! We went off that over an hour ago!’ He turned the page. As in all atlases, there were two completely blank pages at the very end. ‘So now we must be somewhere here,’ he said, putting a finger on one of the blank pages.

‘Where’s here?’ cried the Head of the Army.

The young pilot was still grinning broadly. He said to them, ‘That’s why they always put two blank pages at the back of the atlas. They’re for new countries. You’re meant to fill them in yourself.’"

Full quote here

2013-02-25 :: Project 'Hand-Drawn Map' 

Mapping the Tong Bahru Estate -- 

  1. Why am I making this map? I'd like to try to map some areas in Singapore that I've been lucky to get to know -- neighbourhoods I've lived in so far, places I've discovered -- so that I can share them with my friends who visit, as well as on my blog to communicate these spaces to my friends and family.
  2. Why am I the expert to create this map? I lived near to Tiong Bahru for the first year that I was living in Singapore. I used to walk or take the bus here several times a week to have a coffee, do my weekly market shopping, buy flowers, or catch-up with friends and feel that through these frequent small trips I got to know the area in quite a special way.
  3. Who is my target audience? My target audience will be my friends and family -- who have a range of ages and interests. The goal will be that the map, through the characteristics and locations that it pulls out, can be less about individual shops etc, but more about the types of expriences and spatial characteristics that you can find in the old estate.
  4. Do I want my final project to be printed or digital? How is going to be used/held? What other constraints do I need to keep in mind moving forward? This is a difficult one... I think there are actually two mediums in the end -- printed, postcard format, and digital, blog format. This will mean I may need to format the map twice, to cater to the constraints of both. The blog is to communicate to those that aren't in Singapore, whereas the postcard could be more of an illustrative device for use in Singapore.
  5. What level of detail do I need to include? I'd like to be a little more illustrative in the final map to show the architectural or spatial character of the area. I think this will mean that I may need to play around a little with angle and scale of details. Perhaps it wont be full colour, but colour will be used as a highlighting device. I dont want the map to be too prescriptive about which stores are important, but more start to pull out the characters of the streets.
  6. Dear class, I need your help/expertise/guidance on how to  ...  express the information/spatial characteristics of my map. Any ideas or inspiration you might be able to share will be appreciated... I'm hoping to make the final map as a three-dimensional illustration... 

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