A correspondence between
Ivana Ivkovic (Zagreb / Croatia)
and Mica Cabildo (MM / Philippines).
Hi Ivana,

Ah so I have this thing I call the island project.
A lot of readings so far, in the end I just got tired
of reading and booked a bunch of flights.

I read that in early creation myths, and also in
the earliest maps the Earth is often depicted as
an island surrounded by water. Also I remember
reading that Earth is an island in space, but I
can't find the passage now. Anyway when I read your
Spyhopping post, I thought ah so archipelagos are
land constellations floating in space-ocean?

Also I love the Pacific Islander stick charts!
Are you familiar with them?

Look, how the shell-islands look like star
constellations. The lines symbolize kinds of ocean
swells, caused by nearby islands. I love the idea of
having to rely on one's entire body and senses to
navigate - and also of looking across and down in
addition to looking up.

There is much more I can tell you, but maybe this is
good enough to start with!


Dear Mica,

That looks so interesting. Particularly the envisioning
of archipelagos as land constellations. And I've never
heard about the stick charts before, fascinating.

Sure, we could discuss these materials as a research-
in-progress blog post, or perhaps even a series.
But, what form or format are you thinking for the
public presentation of your project in the end?

I was thinking we could sketch out this conversation
as a series of illustrations accompanied by reference
materials... and perhaps the sketches could become
objects or situations to be exhibited...

Yes, let's talk more about this!

From 17,
Hi Ivana,

Sorry it took so long, I was out traveling.

As for the form / format, I really do not know yet,
I was thinking maybe something online or time-based.

I was out in Coron / Palawan traveling some islands
and took some pictures and video, really touristy
trip. I made a crappy vacation video, you can watch
here if you like!

I am wondering, is island-hopping also a popular
activity in Europe? Here island hopping is when
tourists go out on a boat with a couple of guides to
visit islands to snorkel or laze around on secluded
beaches. But I was delighted by the idea of oceanic
dispersal of terrestrial species and "colonization
of a series islands".

As for archipelagos as land constellations - I think
it is also interesting to compare the birth and death
of stars to how islands are formed and eventually
disappear, as above, so below. Do you have in your
research how star constellations came to be called,
clustered and imagined as they are? 

Yes I think illustrations with reference materials
would be great...

from the tropics,

What about digital artist books that can be
digitally printed on location (and when there is
occasion and budget)?

Croatia is one of the rare European countries
with many big and small islands, so we do have
some island hopping. It is difficult to do by
public transport ferries and boats (they always
have the logic of taking islanders to work/shop
on mainland and back) but easy for (and we have a
lot of those) people who own or rent boats/yachts
and move around. Greece also has many islands and
huge tourism industry around them.

A lot of astronomy and mapping comes to our modern
age from ancient Greece, but then a lot of that
was taken from the earlier Babylonian system (they
had the first surveying techniques and we were
tough in school that ancient Egypt needed to develop
mapping as a way to reestablish property lines
after the annual Nile floods). Looking at how
mapping transversed history is a little bit like
unearthing knowledge.

Earliest found mapping was in fact mapping or
drawing of stars found in cave paintings, then
people moved to mapping habitats, then lands
farther away.

I like this ancient Egyptian illustration:

I think the big difference between Pacific and
Mediterranean was that here people mapped land, not
sea. Sea was a void between land. I like the notion of
mapping swells of the ocean in the Pacific and wonder
what that can be if we look up at the stars...

So, the basis could be constant reiteration of looking
up and down - stars and islands. Then mis-matching the
patterns. Now I'm just brainstorming. But I'm thinking
of the illustrations you mention (with reference
materials) as somehow double exposures...?

Maybe transparencies that layer over each other?
The artist book as series of transparencies to be
layered onto an overhead projector and projected onto
ceiling of exhibition space...?

You mention ship wrecks under the sea/ocean, and I was
looking at bone remains under desert sand... again,
just brainstorming but I like this idea of double
exposures and synthesis of sky/sand/water...

I have the book Cosmigraphics by Michael Benson.
It is a collection of representations of the universe.
I'll go back to it and see if anything comes up.

Let's keep talking and see what we can
come up concretely!

Still in 17,
Dear Ivana,

I love this idea of looking up and down (stars and
islands) and double exposures. And the Egyptian chart
looks very interesting. Do you think it would make
sense also, to view it as double exposures of Eastern
and Western traditions of mapping and navigation?
Or temperate and tropical? 

My personal research for my island project I have
actually narrowed down to a specific region in the
Philippines: Palawan, an archipelago of 1,780 islands,
the highest concentration of islands in the country.
Another thing of note about Palawan is that its
Kalayaan Group of Islands / Spratlys are currently
disputed territories in the South China Sea conflict. 

In one dive shop I saw huge nautical charts of Palawan,
I am trying to figure out where to get them.
There must also be a map of shipwrecks somewhere.

Also another thing I'm drawn to is karst topography,
I believe Croatia has a lot of this? In Palawan there
is a lot of it also, quite dramatic and beautiful but
I don't really know how this can fit in.

Alexander von Humboldt's maps I also really like.

A book makes a lot of sense to me--perhaps we can even
release it as a .pdf through the blog?

tell me more tell me more
Dear Mica,

Yes, I agree we are looking at this from two different
perspectives - a Mediterranean and a Pacific one.
One an enclosed and easily traversable sea (we joke
the Adriatic is like a bathtub), the other a huge
expanse (or one can stay in cozy lagoons I guess?).

Thinking about karst (yes, Croatia has some 50% of its
territory in karst) I think you intuitively come to a
nice point - what is interesting about mapping karst
are the underground waterways - some impossible to map
as water disappears and reappears and is not just
flowing but moving via capillary action. Ancient
Greeks like Homer wrote about karst. I know research
is carried out often by dyeing water and watching for
coloring of the white-grey karst stone elsewhere.
I guess these days they might map some of the cracks
and caverns with 3D scanning, but the whole of karst
is porous and capillaries are impossible to map.
And often sea water is also pulled in, complicating
things more. There are some special sinkholes in
Croatia and many spectacular caves in Croatia
and Slovenia.

I like the idea of several mappings in similar visual
style: mapping the star constellations - light
protruding from the darkness, mapping land protruding
from oceans as archipelagos of islands, mapping 
subterranean rivers or sinkholes of karst - water
penetrating into dry land, shipwrecks at different
depths... multiple exposures.
I've been readying about the contested waters -
the reclaiming of land and building of lighthouses.
Perhaps that's another layer of constellations to
think about? Lighthouses also mean beams of light...
This is a map of all working lighthouses in Croatia:

Maybe our maps can also be annotated somehow,
layered? With footnotes or drawings or numbers (data,
distances, coordinates...). Like the Egyptian star
chart, like the von Humboldt geovisualizations.

I thought about overhead projector because I was
thinking of the book pages or maps as something that
could be touched - perhaps placed to view and
overlapped into new fictive constellations by
exhibition visitors/readers of the material. This is
impossible with just a beamer or even a diaprojection.
And I like the idea of maps and pages as actual
sheets, not virtual.

Of course, any publication (also including
documentation of the event of exhibiting this) could
become a pdf for easy browsing online.

Let's keep swimming...

To be continued...