Graduate Alumni Work > Advanced Fiber Studio (Highlights)

Robin Althouse (Spring 2007)
Robin Althouse (Spring 2007)
2007

My current work uses mapping as both a subject and a form to explore the crossovers between our environments and ourselves. I explore my own awareness and knowledge as well as to try to make public environments part of my private self.

I started my exploration at the most basic level, by documenting my personal movements through spaces. This takes the form of mapping my daily routes. Over time, patterns and habits rise to the surface, revealing subconscious choices. From this, I have expanded in my work to the combination of visual forms used to represent different systems. This began as taking imagery of the body and joining it with the grid logic of a city. The similarities of how we abstract all types of systems has become my focus, and I am expanding my visual references to circuit boards, pipe systems, and plant roots, among others. I am also interested in how both maps and diagrams distort scale by bringing the microscopic and continental into our bodies' scale. I play with this by combining the micro and macro in a single image. These combinations take form as installations of pods and tubes of processed thrift store sweaters. This material initially attracted me because the sweaters are a discarded second skin. They continue to hold my attention in the way I am able to layer different processes such as felting and sanding onto them. The material's transformation has begun to mimic the digestion or transformation that happens in body systems. I recently began an investigation of the political and commercial issues of boundaries and organization. My drive is to make these unknown lines a visible and concrete experience. My explorations end in guided tours. I am experimenting with both audio podcasts, tour books, and tagging landmarks as systems of guiding people through a space. Two subjects so far have been the organization of supermarkets and the history of ward boundaries in Wicker Park. The tours exist as experiments, not final products like my other work. Each direction I work in is food for the others, all of them helping to tie my wide range of thoughts on mapping together.