Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Mental Map

When I was a study-abroad-student in Germany some twenty years ago, I took a German culture class. One of our student exercises was to create what the teacher called a 'mental map' of Germany based solely on what we thought we knew about the place. We were discouraged from attempting to draw an accurate map with city and state boundaries, but instead were told to focus on illustrating our preconceived notions & ideas. Most of the students created maps that included drawings of sausages and huge glasses of beer.

Our teacher, on the other hand, was a 68er & had come of age during a time of great political and social upheaval. Her map included the RAF, not to be confused with the Royal Air Force, a Swastika, and the former DDR replete with a drawing of a wee Trabbi.

Demo in Hamburg, 1968. 
Trabant

A couple of years back, I found myself at an art show at the Oakland Museum of California. There was a gal there selling prints of her watercolors and oils. I was particularly taken with her rendering of Australia, a country where my English ancestors moved to before coming out to California in the 1910s. The Australia piece was meant as a gift for her mother who hails from Australia and contains all the things that her mother holds dear about the place in which she grew up. I thought it looked like a 'mental map' of sorts and was immediately reminded of the exercise from 20 years prior. I bought the print.
Here it is--



I just spent about 3 minutes, and it shows, on drawing a mental map of my homestate of California. Don't laugh! (Well, not too loudly...)


If you're up for the challenge, then I'd be keen to see what sort of mental maps you all could come up with regarding where you're from or where you live now. Nothing is out-of-bounds save for a lack of imagination. :)

11 comments:

  1. Intriguing mind maps.
    Mine would be a very mixed bag I suspect.
    And the vegemite in your Australian mind map would assuredly have a line through it - much like no smoking signs. That stuff is poison.
    My Australia would have fires, wombats, many birds, beauty and ugliness to our first people and recent migrants. Side by side and mostly co-existing

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    1. Yes! My mental map of Australia would include marsupials galore, Tasmania with my great-grandma Bea standing in the middle of it, Nicole Kidman, and, probably, a Hemsworth or two. (BTW: what has vegemite ever done to you? ;D )

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    2. I wasn't exposed to it as a child (my mother was English and my father German). My first exposure was very thickly spread and I was told I was unOrstrayan because I didn't like it.

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    3. Ahhh, got it. Too much is really TOO much. :S

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  2. Your map reminds me of those decorative colorful pillows of states and their sites, etc.

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  3. Today I think my mental map would include fires. I'm terrible at drawing, but I think my map would have a whole lot of more stuff in SoCal ;)

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    1. Footage of the fires is terrifying. :( Yeah, def more So. Cal. in your mental map, I'd imagine. I never went to Disneyland as a kid, so my map is devoid of Mickey and the gang.

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  4. I was a revolutionary student in '68. Guildford School of Art. I remember the Surrealist Map of the World, with G.B. a tiny speck against Ireland and France.

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    1. Wow. I'd be keen to hear your stories of that time, Tom.

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    2. Surrealist Map of the World shows No. America as Mexico & Alaska. Really trippy.

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