An article on the ideas behind Mapping (Me)lbourne was printed in Saturday's Age:
Once upon a time in London someone drew a map for me - directions to a pub with a roaring fire (it was winter, the fire was crucial). He noted the surrounding streets and made a waypoint of the junction of logs and flames, all on the back of a till receipt. The pub no longer exists but the map remains, as a souvenir and as a memory portal that whisks me back to a unique time and feeling whenever I look at it. That scrap of paper holds for me as much story as a novel: place, character, feeling - it's all there.
Human beings have always drawn maps - on cave walls and clay tablets and animal skins, on parchment and silk, on the backs of hands and beer coasters. The first maps of the world relied in some part on guesswork: what Ptolemy didn't know, he theorised into being. Now that the civilised world has been well and truly charted, we find ourselves mapping territories that are abstract or personal or imaginary.
It is early May in Melbourne, 5.30pm. Daylight savings has kicked in. The air smells of rain and the lights of the city are starting to blink their code into the encroaching darkness.
Upstairs at Signal, to the soundtrack of trains clanking and heaving at Flinders Street Station, a group of people have come together to make a map that has something more than map-ness: a map with possibilities and poetry, a collaborative personal object for public consumption, an invitation, if you will.
Lisa D'Onofrio and I conceived of Mapping (Me)lbourne as a result of being walkers and writers and map-fanciers. We were inspired by community mapping projects, such as Christian Nold's ''bio-mapping''. Nold created a device that measures the wearer's galvanic skin response, which indicates arousal in conjunction with geographical location. His Greenwich Emotion Map plots human interaction (arguments, kisses) alongside rubbish, congestion and promises of an eco-conscious future. Nold asks: ''Will seeing other people's experiences allow us to engage differently with our environment?''
Lisa and I wanted to create a project that used the city as the source and the body as the dowser. The idea was to gather a group of people, undertake urban wanderings and remap a corner of the city with words and images and things found along the way.
■ As part of the Emerging Writers Festival (May 23-June 2), Mapping (Me)lbourne concludes with a map launching and public walk on May 29. The walk will leave from Signal, Flinders Walk, at 6pm. emergingwritersfestival.org.au
NB: The little bird in the photograph is somewhere on our route - will you spot it?