Polynesian Stick Charts

Polynesian Stick Charts

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This workshop was the first collaboration between David Strang, Rocio Von Jungenfeld and Vincent Van Uffelen around the topic of stick charts. I had worked with both Rocio and Vincent on separate projects before.

The research workshop explored how low-tech mapping techniques can reveal the complexity of flows that constitute the city and make these flows accessible to its citizens. In this context, the aim was not to focus on the (visual) representation of quantifiable data (e.g.  traffic, rain, geolocation) but on the often invisible and highly subjective representation of existing flows in the city. Based on one technique, we discussed and tested how simple technologies can be used in the pre-design phase to gain tacit knowledge of the flows of a city. Once brought to the surface, by means of our workshop methodology, the knowledge about the flows of humans, objects/matter, energy, or information will enable participants to make informed decisions about how these flows are used and how they can be re-channelled, altered or reinforced to design a city that flows in a way in which they, the citizens, want it to flow.  

We introduced an ancient mapping technique, the stick charts map, as a potential means of personal investigation into the underlying flows and their interrelations. These simple objects made of sticks, stones, and thread, are humble in appearance, but represent a complex knowledge of waves, wind, islands and orientation that has instructed the initiated how to navigate between remote Polynesian islands for centuries.


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