Quipu underground map photo
Quipu II Knotted nylon, 48"x36" 2006

This sculpture is, as with the original quipus, constructed of many strands of coloured string. This quipu takes the form of a map of the London Underground system, as of 2005. It is a successor to "Quipu" which was a meditation on, the World Trade Center attack, and is a reflection on the London Transport bombings of 2005.

As with Quipu, the sculpture is also an experiment in the representation of information, using the Incan method of information storage and transmission. I was thinking of the quipu as a method of cartographical information representation for the blind. Little is known about the quipus [1] but it seems that they were used for much more than the numerical data that has so far been decoded. In this sculpture I show the encoding of geographic information in a rather unconventional quipu. Each line is reflected by its original colour. Each terminus is represented by a long knot and every other station by a single overhand knot. Connections link the respective stations' knots. The pieces also reflect a lifelong fascination I have had with knots.

While Quipu was frames on a board, under glass, "Quipu II" was designed to highlight the tactile quality, for inclusion in the Blind Art "Sense and Sensuality" exhibition where it appeared in September 2006 and won the Blind Art Foundation's purchase prize. This exhibit at the Bankside gallery (near Tate Modern) in London will permit touching of the pieces for accessibility to the blind and partially sighted. Quipu II is now part of the Blind Art Foundation's permanent collection and will tour with the collection.

  1. Ascher, Marcia "Mathematics of the Incas: Code of the quipu" 1981
  2. Urton, Gary "The social life of numbers: A Quechua ontology of numbers" 1997
Other works inspired by the NYC subway system are Subway Lifecycle (a computer animation), and Metrosphere.

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