Have you given a dude in a blue hat directions around Manhattan recently? Did he have a Century 21 shopping bag? If so, there’s a good chance you’ve unwittingly participated in the art (gasp!) of Nobutaka Aozaki, who is building a map of Manhattan based on directions drawn by strangers.
Aozaki lives in New York, but in his free time, he plays the part of the tourist as part of an ongoing project called From Here to There. On his website, he explains the process accordingly:
Pretending to be a tourist by wearing a souvenir cap and carrying a shopping bag of Century 21, a major tourist shopping place, I ask various New York pedestrians to draw a map to direct me to another location. I connect and place these small maps based on actual geography in order to make them function as parts of a larger map.
According to Aozaki, who spoke to Spoon & Tamago about the project, From Here to There celebrates the dying art of direction-giving, which is quickly disappearing in a world of smartphones and Google Maps. “This is becoming a lost form of communication,” he said. “Most people just pull out their smartphone and try to show me a map. When this happens I tell them I’ll forgot so please draw me directions!”
The resulting map of New Amsterdam isn’t exactly to-scale, nor is it very useful. But it’s a fantastic representation of how humans communicate visually—you can practically hear someone saying "no, this is north!" [Spoon & Tamago]