16 December 2013

[map,art] Jerry's World - What'cha Gonna Do When The Void Comes For You?

It's not looking good, suddenly, for the city of Fields West.
A new Void has appeared in the city of Fields West this morning (map year 1086).
This largely unprotected city of over 700,000 souls saw the relocation of an estimated 15,700 individuals to the alternative dimensions inside the Void.  This portion of historic old town will be greatly missed by the remaining residents.
The white spot used-to-be. Now it's not, no more. 

Our correspondent is one Jerry Gretzinger, of northern Michigan, and on-and-off now, for a period of decades, he's nurtured a very personal, evolving, and awesomely-creative world which is his, and his alone.

Starting with a make-believe town he called Wybourne, he simply drew and drew and drew. Coming to the edge of one sheet of paper, he expanded onto another. The resulting world which, if I'm reading the reportage correctly, goes by the name of Ukrania, but which the artist seems simply to refer to as The Map, is now truly large, consisting of over 2,500 8-by-10-inch panels.

Over time the expression has changed somewhat. Bits of collage have worked their way in, and abstract color patterns in others. I recall the days in which I'd create cities of my own; I kind of worked in this direction, but never went all the way. Jerry not only went all the way, he took it in directions that can only be termed a certain sort of genius.

He expands and evolves (any map panel is open to some sort of change) his map using a deck of playing cards, actually a deck made up of more than one deck, each one decorated with some sort of paint pattern and each one containing a rule. With this, and a set of rules he applies and evolves along with the work, this world expands and changes. Over time it has grown to cover an area the artist estimates as equivalent to Connecticut and a great-sized piece of Massachusetts - some 12 or 14,000 square miles … and has rail lines, highways, and quizzical and interesting cities with English-countryside-inflected names like Leyemouth, Southchurch, Fields West, and of course, Wybourne … a city suffering from its own void incursion.

This is such an entrancing thing to me that I cannot put it into words. And I'm hardly the first one who's noticed; Wired magazine has a wonderful article here (http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/09/jerry-gretzinger-map-ukrania) and I understand that The Atlantic has an article on it, but I'm too entranced by his blog to be bothered to find that one. He puts on shows and his work has garnered him some attention.

The idea of a void whisking some sections of landscape off to some other unknown dimension is most intriguing, though. His blog reports dryly on the loss of numerous thousands of residents to the unknown void, and in the void-vacated areas, new areas can emerge. Now, it's possible to stave off the void with barrier walls, but, sadly, Fields West seems undefended by them. Tough times in that town.

Ukrania must have one of the most bemusing insurance industries known to man.

The evolving nature of the map and the cards which issue commands and the rules which evolve over time also form a dead-fascinating idea: an artwork which revises itself and an artwork which changes the artist at the same time the artist is augmenting and revising the other two.

It it art recapitulating life, life infusing art, or a third thing that, dear God, I just can't find the words for right now?

I don't know.

Just read Jerry's blog: http://jerrysmap.blogspot.com/

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