Conversational Mapping: Revaluing the Social Aspects of Art

Journal article: Hyperrhiz 12. Special issue: mapping culture mulitmodally.
Edited by Craig Saper and Nancy Duxbury.
Due for publication Summer 2015.

  • Conversational Mapping: Revaluing the Social Aspects of Art
    Gausden, C.Smith, H (2015).
  • Publication: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

This submission, part audio, part text continues a dialogue between artist Helen Smith and critical theorist Caroline Gausden delivered at the 2014 Mapping Culture Conference in Coimbra, which compared two distinct geographies through the lens of art as a social practice. It approaches the question of cultural mapping from the perspective of artistic research, considering the value of conversation as a methodology within such research and more broadly as an unacknowledged cultural form. In this respect Michel de Certeau’s writing on the speech act is an important reference between the researchers that leads to the inclusion of audio as well as written materials. The audio fragments open up the original dialogue to the voices of participants and social activists in the two contexts discussed. This hybrid form, making use of hypertext to travel in different directions, acknowledges a particular movement between positions often taken up by the artist within social practice. This movement involves the less visible actions of listening and supporting collaborative creativity. This supportive work is compared to artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ definition of ‘Maintenance Art’(1969). By defining and acknowledging the maintenance that accompanies creative works it is hoped that the essay will develop a spiral argument for mapping as a relational and negotiated form.