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City Seminar: Infrastructures of Memory: Polar Wandering and Trespass - Tracing Journeys and Mapping Memory

Layla Curtis
When Nov 20, 2018
from 05:30 PM to 07:00 PM
Where Boardroom, Department of Architecture
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Artist Layla Curtis will discuss her internet-based work Polar Wandering (2005) and her mobile phone app Trespass (2015). Both works use GPS to trace journeys across a landscape and map memories onto a particular place.

Part-diary, part-drawing, part-map, is an interactive website which traces the route of the artist’s 3-month journey to and around Antarctica, while she was artist-in-residence with the British Antarctic Survey. Data from a hand-held GPS device (carried at all times by Curtis), was uploaded in real-time to the project website and plotted onto a hand-drawn, zoomable map of the globe, tracing every detail of the artist’s 27,856-mile-long journey as it unfolded. This presentation will use Polar Wandering as a tool to explore some of the anecdotes from the artist’s journey.

Mobile phone app Trespass provides users (who are willing to trespass) with an oral history of Freeman’s Wood – a plot of land recently fenced off by land-owners barring locals from entering under threat of breaking trespass laws. Curtis invites app users to listen to interviews she conducted with local long-term users of the space, but uses geo-location and geo-fencing technology to restrict access to the edited audio, requiring those who wish to listen, to visit Freeman’s Wood themselves. Curtis will introduce the project and discuss how it weaves together memories, experiences, opinions and speculations of a local community, and maps them onto a particular plot of land.    


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About Layla:

Layla Curtis is an artist whose practice has a focus on place, landscape and mapping. Her multi-form work examines the attempts we make to chart the earth, how we locate ourselves, navigate space and represent terrain.

Previous works include: online archive, commissioned by Film & Video Umbrella and included in her solo exhibition at Spacex, Exeter; Tong Tana, made while living and working with nomadic hunter-gatherers in the Borneo rainforest and exhibited at Matt’s Gallery, London; and online interactive drawing, made during her Arts Council England International Fellowship to Antarctica and included in solo exhibitions at Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast; and New Art Gallery Walsall.

Other solo exhibitions include those at Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle; Milton Keynes Gallery; and Akiyoshidai International Arts Village, Japan. Group exhibitions include those at Tate Modern, London; Pavilhão Lucas Nogueira Garcez-Oca, São Paulo, Brazil; and Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal, Canada. Curtis’ work is included in significant collections including the Tate Collection, the Government Art Collection and the World Bank art collection.   

About the City Seminar:

The City Seminar Series this year, co-hosted by the Department of Geography and the Department of Architecture, will convene around the theme ‘Infrastructures of Memory’. The intention of this series is to explore a variety of techniques, technologies, rituals, performances and materialities of memory and remembrance, and how they may reinforce or subvert prevailing power relations.

More information, including the full term card can be found attached and on the City Seminar Facebook Page.