Friday, August 10, 2012

More about those cards.....

I just took the top nine cards off my "Future Predictor" deck and scanned them so I could give you a better idea of what they tell me. Starting from the upper left they are:

6 Hearts: I move down six panels in my current stack, pull that sheet, make two color copies, and archive the original. One copy gets signed and offered for sale on eBay. The other copy becomes the next generation of that panel and gets revised according to basic rules which I will not go into here. Each panel has a set of cross-hairs from which all execution and revision emanates. Blank areas get painted, and already painted areas get a layer of collage. When the sheet is entirely collaged the bud of a new town appears at the cross-hairs.

Q Hearts: Move 12 panels and proceed as above. When the card is red the painting or collageing is done counter-clockwise. Black cards indicate a clockwise direction. The card also has the command "1/16" telling me to make a new 1/16 scale composed sheet  (256 panels on one 8 by 10 inch page).

5 Hearts: The command is to scan. I am continually in the process of scanning the 2600 plus panels in order to make 1/4 and 1/16 composition sheets and to give me a sense of where I am in the project.

Black King: tells me to build a new defense wall. So, that sheet will have the bud of a new Void Defense.

9 Diamonds: another "scan" command. There are several in the deck.

8 Diamonds: reads "New island if all water OR new Void Defense Wall." This gives me an alternative. Sometimes I draw a card which doesn't make sense given the panel on which I am working. I am obliged to execute the command as well as I can but also then have given myself permission to change the command on the card for the next time it comes up. I keep a list of such new commands and take the next one on the list.

7 Diamonds: "Count sheets." This is another never-ending process. Every time I archive a sheet or create a new panel I try to remember to change the count on the header sheet for that pile. Sometimes I forget. So, I have found it necessary to count manually the piles. This command obliges me to count at least one pile.

Joker: Move 15 panels, work clockwise, copy a city "master" onto label paper. Most of the collage work is done by cutting out label paper. There are stacks of various colored collage materials and folders of roads and cities. There are masters of each type, and, in this case, I will copy the top master in its stack and then return it to the bottom.

7 Diamonds: "Copy this sheet for collage." The seventh panel down the stack will be copied onto label paper for collage use. This is an example of the Map regenerating itself.

Everyone thoroughly confused? I'd be happy to answer specific questions.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Slow Map

When Jerry's Map was started in August, 1963 in that production control room of the Hoover Ball Bearing factory on South State Road in Ann Arbor there were no personal computers, no color copy machines, no video games, no emails, no Walkmen, no satellite TVs, no fax machines even.

The earliest panels of the Map were executed in ballpoint pen on what was referred to as "typing paper." Since there was no word processing, term papers had to be hand-typed on one of those antique machines called "typewriters". The stats for the Map- populations, "station districts", college football scores were typed onto half-page size binder paper. Letters I wrote to friends back in Ann Arbor after I transferred to Berkeley in September, 1963 were typed, and I made a carbon copy to keep for myself.

All that now seems like the Middle Ages. I use the computer to scan images, compose smaller-scale sheets, to make labels, and to keep stats. I use the color inkjet constantly to make copies of panels so that I can revise them without losing their history. I email images. I sell prints on eBay.

But I won't resort to generating the actual Map iconography by computer. I often think what I might have created on SimCity if I had spent 49 years doing it. The satisfaction, for me, of making this Map is to see the interaction of my rules and my hand. They are, in a way, a simple, slow computer. The images emerge at a snail's pace. Panels often take years to complete.

Sometimes I feel that we move too fast in these times. We miss many details when we do. We see more of what's real from the seat of a bicycle than one of an A320. (I do love the window seats, though, I have to admit. That must be obvious from my work).

There has been a lot of talk about turning my Map into a video game. I will only want to do that when it's possible to recreate the hand-drawn quality. Will that be in my lifetime?