Series editor: Serena Marcenò (University of Palermo)
In the eighteenth century English sailors had at their disposal large maps, which indicated, with extreme accuracy and completeness, the presence of sea currents and winds in a given area. These maps, drawn by specialists and called “drifting” maps, or “shipwreck” maps, represent the cartographic evolution of the ancient pilot books, and the result of the fusion of a complex network of scattered information and isolated experiences that had chaotically accumulated during European nautical practice across the oceans. In late modern age, thanks to this important tool of knowledge and orientation, the routes of boats became increasingly safe and it became less and less frequent to get lost due to currents and winds.
“Drifting Maps” follow two directions. The first is to steer the drift, to draw maps so as not to end up drifting, to avoid shipwreck. The second is to drift, a sort of flânerie to follow the traces of changes in the forms of political representation and aesthetic experience. Drift is a way to pass through various environments, outside the one-way notion of travel, letting oneself go through stresses of the territory and of new encounters. A dimension in which play, passion, chance, the representation that sailors or walkers make, the unexpected play an important role. This drift is made up of small groups and between different groups, which can change, exchange, even grow and then shatter again. These two apparently opposite aspects, governing drift and drifting, can actually be complementary and represent a way of dealing with the complexity of our current world, which is different and contrary to the typical solutions of late liberalism. The drift is not getting lost in space but collecting information and sensations that help us understand the space in which we find ourselves. It equips the observer with tools that help her/ him to read the ground in which she/he moves in a subjective way (without forgetting the objective aspects), transforming her/him from a spectator into an actor of the discovery of the space that surrounds her/him. Drift implies the development of a strong critical spirit, a profound observation of events, the ability to underline the value of detail.