Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mapping and naming

Naming and mapping. What’s in a name?

To share Yellow Bird with sculptors, earth-artists, friends etc. – especially from a distance - I need to be able to provide some sort of map. Perhaps I too need a sense of it as a dispersed but articulated whole. I can get both a plat and a topo map from the Court House in Woodbury, but it will lack any location names. So I have set myself the task, the pleasure, and the adventure, of devising a palette of names for the significant sites. Immediately, the whole question of ‘place’ jumps out. If place is meaningful spatial location, what role do names play? Establishing, creating, opening, extending, provoking, commemorating …. meaning? Should we name everything at the same time, as if by divine decree – like the ‘world’ of Narnia, or the Hobbit – so that the names all seem to have been baked in the same oven? Do we deploy literary allusions, chance associations, portentous redeployments? Do we let names accumulate over time, as memories accrete and inspiration upbubbles anew? (Yes, that seems right.) And who does the naming? Here I welcome input - imaginative, biographical, commemorative … YB is a shared space – with bipedic and polypedic friends alike - or it is a poor thing. Can I listen to the other-than-human for guidance?

Yellow Bird Solar Research Institute. I filled a black 55 gallon oil drum with water and placed it in the sun. As it filled up, the outside metal was cold below the water level, and hot above it. So it seemed to be radiating heat within. But at the end of the day, it seemed sub-tepid. So much for a free daily drum bath. I guess it’s radiating heat back out again. Next step – try to find a big clear plastic bag and some spacers to create a greenhouse effect. (The official solution creates an insulated glass box.) Watch this space.