I’ve been thinking about value and how we determine value. Who decides the value of things and why do we agree? Value of objects, value of experiences, value of self. Self-worth and how you measure it. Can we live in a world without currency? Would a world of alternative currency based on a concept of sharing, communication and promises be a utopia or anarchy?
To begin exploring I designed a workshop that had a playful approach to beginning answering these questions. The idea was simple, draw a map to nowhere. The kind of map that you probably drew when you were a child. A treasure map. Duo’s drew each other maps; scale and landmarks were not allowed. Abstract instructions were. Following these maps to nowhere the mission was to find and collect some real treasure, of course, where ever X marks the spot. The treasure could be tangible for example a rock or a feather, as well as the more ephemeral; a sound, a thought a feeling. ‘Collect’ was a wide brief as well, it could be something you can put in your pocket, something captured in a camera or something documented through drawings and words.
Everybody set off for their adventure. I picked a direction spontaneously and headed for the X. To my surprise the map made a lot of sense considering it was a randomly drawn line, every time I thought there should be a left turn, it was there, as if my map artist had known. I found a nice block of wood and wrote a little about my find. I wondered if it was really the right place, not that there could be a wrong place. I walked further up the track and took the next left. I found myself stood in a doorway of two trees. To my left were carvings: ‘A+P’ with half a heart drawn over ‘A’. Well I must be ‘A’, then who is ‘P’?
We returned as a group, ready to share our discoveries and treasure. I was glad to hear people enjoyed the task and committed to the experiment. All had success of some kind and everyone’s adventure was as different as the varied maps they’d followed. People had collected things they would not have usually even considered and when telling the group, I could tell there was a genuine attachment and passion towards their finds.
Some maps lead to story book adventures involving hitch-hiking and second mystery maps, and others simple appreciation of the journey. I imagine how this would differ in a city environment and what other people would gain from it personally as well as the physical finds. I believe this experiment worked because without too much effort everyone had slightly readjusted their sense of placing value. These scribbles had become masterpieces. These rocks had become diamonds. These moments had become treasure.