Jacob Richardson MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2014
My PDX is a subjective mapping and photography project about the transportation habits of Portlanders. This project explores how people interact with their environment through transportation networks and how participatory subjective cartography could change their perspective of Portland. The map is a tool inspired by the concept of topophilia, our innate love of place shaped by memories and experiences. Users record daily transportation routes and significant happenings. They enhance their sense of place and strengthen their topophilia by spatializing the memories into a tangible artifact. This collection of personalized maps, reflections, and photographs creates portraits through transportation habits, revealing different versions and varieties of experiences of Portland. This is not a wayfinding project but rather mapping as an expression of geographical emotion.
The primary tool of My PDX is a minimalist base map of Portland, Oregon, screen-printed on TyVek. It has an intentional reduction in geographic cues; only unlabeled major roads and water features are included. Users of the map must orient themselves by either drawing on past experience or referencing another source. As a proof of concept, the map was sent to thirty-two participants who were asked to document and reflect on each trip they took within the city for a week. A color-coded key and markers were provided so the participants could annotate the paths of each transportation type they took. After a week of journaling, they had a personalized map of their transportation network. Photographs were taken of each participant and displayed with their completed map in an exhibition space in order to present the concept of portrait in a variety of media. Displaying the maps and photographs together allowed comparison between the completed maps, which broadened the impact of the project from the individual participants to an audience of viewers.
Winner of the 2014 Collaborative Design Department Award