Audio Story Mapping

June 2015

The Dutch projectplan Between Realities for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space 2015, distinguishes between five different coping strategies: sheltering, fleeing, fighting, negotiating, surrendering. Each of these strategies/practices entails a particular attitude towards reality. Either a movement away from reality (hide or shelter), an engagement with reality (fight or negotiate) or a plunge in reality (surrender). For this Quadrennial, I explored different mapping approaches, with which I represented the Dutch entry for the Spaces exhibition. The approaches were covered by two projects: Collective Mapping of Public Space and Audio Story Mapping. The exploration took place in Prague from 18th until 26th of June 2015 and was presented to the public on the 27th of June at the Clam Gallas Palace lecture hall, together with Sigrid Merx (curator). The Netherlands received the gold medal for best curatorial concept of this quadrennial.

Audio Story Mapping
In this section I will elaborate on the approach or Audio Story Mapping. Aiming to explore the hiding strategies of local inhabitants living in Prague centre, I made an attempt to map the parallel worlds that are created within the reality of mass tourism. I wanted to find out where these worlds materialise and what stories can be told about the places and practices of hiding.

Before going to Prague I had assumptions about how local residents, living in the centre, would be annoyed by the tourist hordes and would make attempts to escape them. I had the fortunate to have long interviews (approximately 2 hours per interview) with six local residents of different age ranges who live in the very centre of Prague. I asked them to take me to a place that facilitates the act of sheltering and to explain the unwritten rules or codes that accompany the place. I found that their answers were evidence more of surrender than escape. Most of the people I interviewed said they weren’t bothered by the tourism or even liked it (maybe as a tourist I am more inclined to be annoyed by other tourists than locals are?). However, as the interviews progressed, it became apparent that these residents obviously were escaping the tourist hindrance. Ariana, a women in her seventies, living right next to the Charles Bridge, did not at any point during the two hour conversation, mention Karlova street (the busiest street leading towards the bridge). Another student I took a walk with, guided me through the side streets he often used to take shortcuts and as a venue to meet or socialise with friends. Places where homeless people congregated tended to be avoided because of the smell but sometimes these routes were preferred as thoroughfares because they were less busy. I asked the people I interviewed if they could draw a map or outline the strategy they used to circumnavigate the tourists.

The maps can be “read” by going to the exact same location to uncover the story of that particular place. The map-reader has to stand on the exact same spot as where the story was told (deviating from this spot makes the audio fade out). The story can be listened to with headphones and by downloading the audio track on one’s mobile phone (via this link: http://performativemapping.net/btwreal/audio). Taking time for the story to unfold and this very personified one to one way of mapping, explores the more active role of the ‘map-reader’.

June 2015

Photos of AUDIO STORY MAPPING:

making noise in a non-existing place
Story by Pavel “Making noise”. The story takes place behind Prague Metronome on a square that has no official name, but that is called ‘Stalin’ by the skaters (because of the Stalin monument that once stood here). With the noise of skaters in the background, Pavel describes the masquerading and escape from reality that occurs here, now and in the past.

simon
Story by Simon “End of the game”. It can be listened to on Wenceslas square, via this website: http://performativemapping.net/btwreal/audio

Story by Ariana "escape routes". It can be listened to in front of her house It can be listened to on Wenceslas square, via this website: http://performativemapping.net/btwreal/audio
Story by Ariana “escape routes”. It can be listened to in front of her house via this website:

David3
David and his colleague drawing and talking about his routes in the city

A strategy for crossing Karluv Most by Kristof
A strategy for crossing Charles bridge, by Kristof

Avoiding the street with Russian dolls, by Simon
Avoiding the street with Russian dolls, by Simon

Avoiding the smell of homeless, by Marketa
Avoiding the smell of homeless, by Marketa

Bypassing tourists, by Marie
Bypassing tourists, by Marie

Standing away from homeless, by Marketa
Standing away from homeless, by Marketa

Escape routes during communism, by Airana
Escape routes during communism, by Airana

The most cosmopolitan square of Prague, by Kristof
The most cosmopolitan square of Prague, by Kristof

Choosing the perpendicular road, by Ariana
Choosing the perpendicular road, by Ariana

Mental map of the city according to street cleaner David
Mental map of the city according to street cleaner David

Overview map of Prague 1, by Adam
Overview map of Prague 1, by Adam

Demonstrating the non-existent place, by Pavel
Demonstrating the non-existent place, by Pavel