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Travel is both a hobby and a lifestyle. Within the constraints of quarantine, how can the experience of travel be made accessible? In “Memory Map,” three linked components entertain and connect people near and far to draw them out of isolation. First (Image 1), a physical treasure hunt of famous travel destinations represented as installations scattered through a city tackles the urge to discover. Second (Image 2), I propose a virtual adaptation of the travel-themed board game “Trekking the World” by Underdog Games that encourages new bonds and addresses the social draw of traveling. Third, (Image 3), a virtual memory archive allows for travelers to share their memories, both of the original destinations and of the new versions in their home cities, within the format of a city grid related to the destination. Together, these elements recontextualize travel under the new constraints of this crisis.
The Memory Map Experience:
I slip on my mask, stepping out of my New York apartment on my weekly trip to the supermarket and laundromat. My path takes me through Washington Square Park, and I peer through the trees to catch sight of a representation of Machu Picchu. From an early age, I have felt drawn to travel: I yearned to discover the world beyond my everyday context.
Before quarantine, I had a trip planned to Machu Picchu. Now, I step to stand in one of the spots positioned in front of this new Machu Picchu in my home city. I pull out my phone and accept the invitation onscreen to visit Cusco, Peru. On my screen, the grid of Cusco unfolds, and people’s memories populate it. I watch the memories move, scrolling as I walk on. A woman’s memories of a sunrise on the mountain paths captivates me, and I pause to absorb it and leave a comment sharing my appreciation of her description. Finally stepping inside the laundromat, I return to my own city, but my mind is far away, wondering if I should try to find the Colosseum or Sydney Opera House on my return trip. The monotony of my everyday routine, which I try to escape so often, has faded.
Upon return to my apartment that evening, I find myself still craving the social aspect of travel. Although I had traveled through other’s eyes on my walk, I missed the wonder of getting to know the people themselves. I sit down and log on to “Trekking the World”’s online board-game interface, and I begin a game with a couple from Canada. As we explore the destinations within the game together, they share memories of their honeymoon in Japan. We expand the memory archive of Mount Fuji together, and they point out the photos they had shared. When we part ways at the end of our game, I recognize in my smile the familiar feeling that I always had when returning to my hotel after a long day of meeting new friends.
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