Douglas Edric Stanley


After a very pleasant meeting with the professors and students of design in Marseille last friday, I’ll now be traveling back to see my friends in Geneva at the art & design school where I’ll run another three-day workshop. So far, we don’t know exactly where it’s going to go — as always I like to keep it open — but we have decided to work from the perspective of visualist performance. So that will probably mean making visual algorithms that relate to live sound input. I’ll see how far we can push that purely technical configuration, and will probably construct some temporary concept to give us a more theoretical framework to work from.

You can see the work we did at the last two workshops in the design section of the school : Ooo and Play!. Those went very well, but apparently the school has changed quite a bit, so I’m looking forward to seeing how this new melding of the art & design schools is coming along.

I love Switzerland (and the Swiss). They have this wonderful speed at which they work — a speed that most French find maddening, because the tempo is just a tiny notch beneath their own.

My favorite Swiss moment was on my way to my first day of teaching at the design school. I was nearby, but couldn’t find the street. I stopped into a local shop and asked for directions. « Hmmm. Je crois la connaître, regardons… » the fellow said, and pulled out a map. He then proceeded to first unfold the map, and then to my amazement fold it up again, only folding it in a very specific way such that he was able to show me the precise position of my target.

The idea is very simple, and almost identical to any other map you might know. In any old dopey map you have letters (A-Z) on the vertical sides of the map, and numbers (1-666) along the horizontal sides. The problem is that you have to hold the map open with two hands, and then use the fingers of your other two hands (or your feet, I suppose) to follow those coordinates in a straight line until you end up crossing at the street you want. But the Swiss are obsessive with the little details, and in such a way that probably explains why most French people find them quaint. The Swiss have letters on the sides of their maps too, only the numbers are printed on the back of their maps. Get it? You fold the map at the letter indicated in the street index, and this lines up the bottom backside of your map precisely at the horizontal position you’re interested in. Then you follow that edge’s numbering system horizontally and bingo, you’ve got your street.

So first you have to imagine that the A-Z number does not give you the row you’re interested in, it gives you the fold you’re interested in, in order to line up the bottom of the map and your street. Very clever, that. Too bad I can’t find any pictures on the Internet to show you what I’m talking about. I’ll have to bring one back with me.

Oh, and did I mention that the typography on that map was to die for?