Posted by Ling

The fifth edition of Poskod Talks was held on 28 July 2012 at Seksan Gallery in Bangsar. The theme of the talks was “Mapping Kuala Lumpur”. Around 70 people turned up to listen to our speakers – a record turn out for our series so far. The audience got comfortable and cosy, making use of all available floor space to listen to our four speakers.

As our moderator Sze Ying Goh pointed out, mapping a city is a process that highlights relevant cultural information and reveals meaningful patterns. Our four speakers are all involved in some form of mapping project, but each of their projects transcends a 2D representation of roads and buildings.

Our first speaker, Lew Pik Svonn kicked off the talks by introducing the project she co-founded: Chow Kit Kita. Pik Svonn gave up her business of 8 years in order to manage this 3-year community mapping project, where she worked with teenagers in Chow Kit to create unique maps of the area.

Left to right: Sze Ying Goh, Jeffrey Lim, Lew Pik Svonn

“The map itself is just a tool for exploring the area”, said Pik Svonn. “Chow Kit Kita is really to highlight their perspective and the diversity of Chow Kit.” These maps – now printed and available in the local area – are intended to share local knowledge, highlighting the teenagers’ favourite hang-outs and food stalls. Pik Svonn is currently working on a new mapping project based in Brickfields.

Our second speaker, Jeffrey Lim, explained how he is creating bicycle route maps in KL. Jeffrey is a graphic designer by training. He runs Studio 25, a design studio focused on graphic design, photography, and bicycles. Jeffrey started a local movement to support cycling, Village Bicycles, which he hopes will make people realise that it’s easier to cycle than we think.

“We live in quite a developed city but outside of KL we’re still quite undeveloped, and people still cycle in villages and small towns to get from A to B. I wanted to involve the community in this because we have so many shortcuts — running by the river here or crossing this road there, it gets you from A to B much faster. That’s the information I wanted to share.”

Image copyright Jeffrey Lim / Studio 25

Our third speaker, Tercia Goh, introduced her photography project #globalfootprints. Back in 1996, Tercia started taking photos during her travels, but rather than snapping tourist sites, she photographed the ground beneath her feet. She then built up a gallery on Flickr and through Instagram, amassing hundred photos taken all over the world. By using the hashtag #globalfootprints, Tercia has opened the project up to other people on the internet who want to adopt her idea.

The result is a global photography gallery that draws attention to what we often overlook, both in foreign places and on our own doorstep. “I’d like to do more in KL,” said Tercia. “I want to start mapping out walking trails or cultural trails where we find unique houses or street signs. To start getting people to explore and discover your city again, in a different way.”

 

Our final speaker, Mark Teh, talked about the way different maps of Malaya and Malaysia have changed through history. Mark is a researcher, educator, performance director and organiser. Mark’s diverse projects are usually concerned with issues of history, memory and participation in the Malaysian context. He teaches at the Department of Performance & Media, Sunway University, and is a member of Five Arts Centre.

Mark Teh

“Maps are a way of making yourself visible, your own identity, what you want to see and what we would like other people to see, ” said Mark. By showing different maps through time, Mark emphasised that maps are relics that capture a place at a particular time – they have value even when they are flawed or become defunct, because they reflect perceptions at any given time.

BetterKL and Poskod.my would like to thank all speakers for their time, and Ng Seksan for kindly lending us his space for the afternoon. For more information on our speakers and their projects, see below:

Lew Pik Svonn Chow Kit Kita Projek and Rumah Ibadat Kita (http://www.facebook.com/RumahIbadatKita)

Jeffrey Lim Studio 25 (http://studio25.my), Village Bicycles (http://www.facebook.com/VillageBicycles)

Tercia Goh #globalfootprints (http://bit.ly/globalfootprints)

Mark Teh http://about.me/markteh