soft maps

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Soft Maps

Soft maps attempts to re-build tools for navigation and orientation by looking at mapping through an alternative lens. Here, a swimming pool is our working model, and the act of cleaning the pool becomes an algorithm for mapping. We explore how tools and presence shape maps, forming a multi-perspective map & score that questions conventional cartographic practices. It matters which maps map maps.
What kind of maps get to shape our world?
Who gets to build these maps and who they are built for ?
Working with our nonhuman collaborators we create localised cartographies which challenge the territories or narratives that maps claim to represent.
feet pool tools
Here our world is a swimming pool
We think about
How tools shape actions
How bodies activate tools
How maps make worlds
Use this page as a score and map to influence your journey.
Soft Maps is a collaboration between Pheobe riley Law and Lily McCraith

Pheobe riley Law (1997) is an installation artist with a focus in sound, three dimensional art, and image. She takes a magpie approach which involves arranging and building relationships between different bodies, vessels or devices in order to create a dialogue. Prevailing interests include exploring the life of non-human actors / inanimate objects and thinking about aspects of human activity through the lens of division and borders.
She sometimes playfully reverses the roles of humans and non-humans, revealing the object-hood of the human essence, and an animate character of the ‘inanimate’ being. In one of her latest performance films, Machine Equities she explores the sonic landscape of machines as actors and collaborators. Previous and ongoing explorations focus on: mapping, machine technologies as our collaborators (both sonically and physically); the relationship we have to the natural world (including the livestock industry) and the role Salt has on aquatic life.
Recent work includes Live set at Permian (Tokyo), the Science and Art festival (Matsudo, Tokyo), Bell (auto) + 2 at Apt Gallery and Crossovers collective (London), Machine Equities at Fabrica Research Centre (Treviso, Italy), Oh O Salinity at Humber Street Gallery, Hull Arts Research and Initiative centre, (Hull), The Hancock Museum, 36 Lime Street Gallery (Newcastle). Emerging Artist Installation at Delaval Hall (Northumberland), A layer of Liquid Water at Spikersuppa Gallery (Oslo, Norway), Residency and tour with Making tracks at Cove park (Scotland). Herd (Newcastle University) and further works at The Baltic, Hatton Gallery New- castle, The Republic Gallery (Blythe), Funen Art Academy Odense (Denmark), LevelOne Gallery Hamburg (Germany), Paradise Air (Japan), Detroit Gallery (Stockholm), Iklectik (London), Cafe Oto (London) & the Coachhouse (Brighton) and sound / score based performances at Ftarri (Tokyo), for BBC Radio 3, Fort Process.

Instagram: @pheobelaw

🏝️Lily McCraith (1996) 🕸️ Is a designer / researcher / artist working across technologies and disciplines. Her work investigates systems, infrastructures and ecologies via active methods of research, enquiry and participation. Lily works, often in collaboration and through situated approaches, making with film, objects, sound, visual communication, publishing and creative technology.
Recent themes include deep sea mining, subterranean politics, community mapping , citizen science, DIY technologies, kites, digital twins, robots, AI, games, and role play as a methodology.
🐛Recent work includes : Culturing the Deep Sea, workshop with Ocean Uni, Porto Design Biennale (2023), AI pedagogies, Science Gallery London (2023), A Cheap Day Out (2023), Resident at Fabrica Research Centre (2022-3), The All Rivers and Species Act, Workshops at Holland Festival & Fiber Festival (2022), Now Play This Game Design Lab at Somerset House (2022) Goethe Institut Artificial Intelligence Residency (2021), Makerversity Designer in Residence (2021), Reassemble Lab, Weaving with Worlds, Fiber Festival (2021), School of Speculation, South London Gallery & Design Museum (2019)


Pool as a map for living Algae

Green algae — chlorophyta — is slimy — often found on pool surfaces. It appears in small clusters on pool steps or lurking in corners. Growing in under 24 hours. Brushing will remove it — but not destroy it.

Yellow algae — phaeophyta –- has a fur pattern — it doesn't spread quickly but it’s harder to destroy. Brushing it will not do much to remove it, apart from it’s the top layer of slime — exposes the algae underneath.

Black — dives into hard surfaces like plastic and concrete — it’s mostly found in ponds but sometimes appears in unmaintained pools. use a stainless steel brush.

Blue-green algae — cyanobacteria — bacteria that live in water or damp soil.

Pink algae — bacteria — reddish-orangeish slime — Usually at the waterline of the swimming pool. Likes PVC surfaces in a pool, especially piping. Though easiest to navigate it often keeps the company of a white water mold, a fungus.