Thursday, July 27, 2006

Earlier on the tube platform, I stood next to a very short guy. I'm not very tall, yet he only came up to the level of my chest. As I was thinking about his shortness, I glanced down and noticed his sandled feet. He had letters tattooed on the each of the four bigger toes of his feet. Reading across, they spelled out S-H-O-R T-A-S-S.

I smiled, thinking how clever he was to both celebrate and make fun of his size. I tried to hide my smiling (English reserve is catching). He noticed me, though, and laughed at my obvious admiration.

It was one of those special, simple, big city moments.

New Europe / Old Europe

Friday, July 21, 2006

I was recently led to think about the theme "New Europe". This is understood to mean the proliferation of 'new' states in Central and Eastern Europe - what were once just one country have split and expanded into 2, or 6, or 16.

I composed this image based on that idea. Each circle corresponds to a European country. The circles increase in size, following the declared independence of countries. Thus, the smallest is the oldest, the largest is the newest. San Marino is "Europe's oldest country" as it was founded in the 4th century. Serbia is Europe's newest, officially established in June of this year after Montenegro voted in a referendum to separate from Serbia. Each country is also laid down in order, thus Serbia is to the front, in the lower centre of the picture.

And, below, is the opposite - the countries of Europe, with the oldest as the largest and the newest as the smallest.

Place Quote: Syria

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

And here in Syria, the very place that had given the world this elegant script, half the people were still illiterate.

  • Paul Theroux, The Pillars of Hercules, p.439

Place Quote: Benidorm

Everything that Spain was said to stand for - charm, dignity, elegance, honour, restraint - was denied in the look of Benidorm.
  • Paul Theroux, The Pillars of Hercules, p.50

Place Quote: Benidorm

In full sunshine, it might have had a cheap and cheerful carnival atmosphere, but under grey skies it hovered, a grotesque malignancy, sad and horrible, that was somewhere between tragedy and farce.
  • Paul Theroux, The Pillars of Hercules, p.34-5

Place Quote: Mediterranean sea

And that was my first Mediterranean epiphany: the realisation that life on these shores bore little relation to what was happening five miles inland, no matter what the country.
  • Paul Theroux, The Pillars of Hercules, p.27


Friday, July 14, 2006

From today's Times newspaper, A psychiatry professor from Chicago, has found that repeated screenings of terrorist attacks on TV increases stress impact on the brain. At the Conference of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, she noted that watching repeated screenings of attacks increased the risk of post-traumatic stress. "TV companies that screen disaster footage to boost ratings should examine their consciences, as they are causing harm to their audiences,” Professor Anzia said.

I can almost guarantee that the panic I felt last week was stoked by constant media reporting of the attacks and dwelling on these. There's a fine line between remembrance and re-living, and I'm not sure the media err on the correct side.


In more pleasant news, my acediscovery project has garnered all manner of interested comments. I've come to a conclusion that the random nature of the project is a little wasteful - all that paper used for potentially no outcome. Whilst I will continue to be random to a certain degree, I also intend to invite people to collaborate. Which I think is a much more exciting venture.

So I'd like to invite anyone reading this - if you would like to draw the world, or draw your country, please email me at: acediscovery@gmail.com.

My World: how people see and draw the world

Monday, July 10, 2006

With just a pad and pen, I ask people to 'draw the world'... 'draw their world'... 'the world as they see it'... I'm purposefully vague. It's not a test od memory or skill, but an attempt to express imaginative geographies and more.

The images are the fascinating, funny, fearless results.

· Go to Flickr to see the My World project, where I ask people to 'draw the world'

EuroRevision: Europe squared.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I want to collect a map for every country in Europe. Get in touch if you want to help.

On conventional world maps, each country is shown with reference to their size.

EuroRevision changes this view by re-positioning each country's map on a 10cm x 10cm piece of paper.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Yesterday was, as most know, the anniversary of last year's bombings in London. That was in my first week living in London - an eventful start to my time here. Friends and relatives urged me to think about returning to Ireland but I resolutely held my ground. The next day I went to work on the tube. I wasn't worried.

Yesterday morning's breakfast TV news coverage of the bombings was widespread, going so far as to show mobile phone video footage from inside one of the carriages. I felt a little nervous, as I went to the tube. I chided myself for being over-anxious, and put on some jaunty Swedish schlager music to cheer myself. Nothing can be wrong in the world when Shirley Clamp's trilling Att Alska Deg.

Yesterday evening, my train was held in Victoria. The driver came over the PA to say there was a problem on the line. He didn't know why. I resumed listening to my music. I could see nervous eyes darting about the carriage. The anxiety was infectious. The driver again came over the PA, he said the line was down between Highbury and Walthamstow. He'd give us "the real reason" as soon as he had it.

Some people rushed off the train. I began to feel nervous, panicky. I realised I could get a bus home, so jumped off the train and out of the station. I saw people running. I wondered why. I saw a policeman talking into his radio. I wondered why. The bus-stop was completely crowded. I wondered why. People rushed across roads. I wondered why. The bus was crowded, so I decided to walk home. I stopped at another tube station along the way. It was closed. I wondered why.

When I got home, I learned that the line was delayed due to a person under a train. Nothing unusual there, but it struck me how I had let terror beat me, scare me. My nerves increased with every noise I heard on my way home. London, a city of opportunity and enjoyment, had become a city of fear.


Friday, July 07, 2006

For the past year or so, I have asked friends and strangers to draw the world. I have, so far, collected 46 images.

In addition to this, I am starting an experimental project in which I ask European people to draw maps of their countries, compiling these together to make one large map of the world. I do not know if this will be successful, but the process of compiling should be interesting. This image would re-draw Europe, with each country given a similar space rather than their geographic, measured areas.