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Tracing Memories

image and text, size varies, 2010



From my experience of travelling between cities, I have found that memories serve as guiding templates, translating and interpreting what is ‘foreign’ in the current physical environment. For example:


Slone Square in London = Omotesando in Tokyo = XinYi District in Taipei

Brick Lane in London = Shimokitazawa in Tokyo = XiMeng Ding in Taipei

Hyde Park in London = Kijijoji in Tokyo = =DaAn Forest Park in Taipei


However foreign we are to a city, we still know how to ‘use’ it, if we have experienced other cities. In The Image of the City, Kevin Lynch suggests that to be completely lost in the modern city is a rare experience for most people, because we are ‘supported by the presence of others and by specific way-finding devices: maps, street numbers, route signs, bus placards’. Lynch has identified the elements that make a city legible and that form its inhabitants’ mental maps: landmark, district, path, edge and node.


This project examines the relationship between the public image of cities and my private images. I used Lynch’s schema to classify places in London and Taipei, devising certain rules and instructions that I imposed upon myself:


  • Draw five routes on a map of London reflecting my experience of place. For example: Tate Modern is my landmark of London; Columbia road (Broadway Market) represents my understanding of the structure of district.


  • Walk the predefined routes. Take snapshots of the scenes that I encounter.


  • Superimpose the routes drawn on the map of London onto a map of Taipei.


  • Use photographs taken in London to direct my movements in Taipei, generating chance encounters. The procedure of walking and taking snapshots is designed to trigger free associations between the two cities.



Edward Casey has noted, there is a strong affiliation between memory and place, for place, is 'well suited to contain memories -- to hold and preserve them', while memory is itself 'a place wherein the past can revive and survive' (1987:186)






© 2014 YinHua Chu

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