Beginning March 16th, Baltimore explores the art of cartography by hosting the Baltimore Festival of Maps, a venture that includes over 20 cultural and artistic organizations throughout the city. I’m sure there’ll be maps of all types to view, from the requisite old brown deteriorating kind to the Baltimore-of-the-future varietal. When I think of a map, I generally think of it as a toolâ€”something to help me get to where I want to go. And a map isn’t supposed to throw me any curve balls when I’m using it. In other words, the map confirms that I’m going in the right direction, that what I’m seeing in front of me is actually in front of me, and is supposed to be in front of me. No surprises.
A few months ago, Irene Hofmann, the executive director of the Contemporary Museum, introduced Erik and I to Boston-based artist Kianga Ford, who was commissioned by the Contemporary to produce one of its offerings to the map fest. For the past few years, Kianga has been creating projects called “The Story of This Place,â€ using maps to generate fictional, imaginary landscapes. The end product is a 40-minute walking tourâ€””a portable piece of cinema”â€”that through her immersion into the fabric of the city’s life, evokes its history, character, people, and their unique stories.
Also central to Kianga’s exploration of a city in her pieces is the inclusion of local musicians, which is where Hybrid Groove Project comes in. We were tapped to create the soundtrack to “Charm City Remix,” the name of Kianga’s Baltimore project. Samples of old BSO recordings, Baltimore club music, old-timey Maryland-themed tunes, and aspiring middle school MCs mingle with turntables, saxophone, melodica and theremin in newly composed music by Erik and HGPâ€”disparate sonic elements tied together by their connection to the Greatest City in America. So stop by the Contemporary, pick up an iPod, and take a tour.