A crowdsourced cartographic work documenting a moment on October 15, 1965, spatial poem no. 2 was the second of nine such events staged by artist Chieko Shiomi.
In 1964 Japanese artist and composer Chieko (or Mieko) Shiomi (1938- ) was invited to New York City by George Maciunas, founder of the Fluxus network of artists, composers and designers. She remained for more than a decade and collaborated with him on a number of projects.
“Starting in 1965, Shiomi Mieko [sic] conducted a series of nine events that she called Spatial Poems. Each one began with an invitation to a large number of friends and colleagues to respond to a simple instruction, which often took the form of an intimate action poem that anyone could perform. The responses she received in the mail would then constitute the work. In 1975, Shiomi published a booklet documenting the nine Spatial Poems and including a collection of responses to each of these works. The accumulated responses give a glimpse of the wide network of artists who were connected through Fluxus activities, from those engaged in the eclectic arts and letters scene in New York City’s downtown to artists located in Tokyo, Łódź, Montevideo, and New Delhi…. In several instances, Shiomi published maps that charted the locations of the respondents—a fitting visualization for a project that she considered a global event.” (“Spatial Poems by Shiomi Mieko”, at post.MoMA.org)
For spatial poem no. 2 Mieko contacted people around the world and asked them to record what they were doing and the direction they were facing at ten in the morning Greenwich Time on October 15, 1965. She produced this map plotting the responses.
The map, not to scale, shows Japan, North America and Europe in outline, with notations indicating the locations of participants and describing what they were doing at the appointed time. The problem of depicting areas with dense participation—New York and London in particular—is solved by the use of a distinctive spiral design centered on a compass rose. Most of the entries are mundane, on the order of “Akimichi Takea was facing upward in Tokyo;” one is titillating (“Robert Filliou was on top of Marianne Staffeldt in Villefranche, France. Marianne Staffeldt was under Robert Filliou in Villefranchce, France;”) and a few are mystifying (“Stanley Brown was facing toward… Direction no. 8948773667848466000875541113667X in Amsterdam.”)
spatial poem no. 2 was first published in 1966, with an unknown print run, though as of December 2020, OCLC records holdings in only five institutions. It was reissued in 1992 in an edition of 500; the present example is signed by Mieko and numbered “45/500”.
OCLC #44190728 et al record six holdings of this edition as of December 2020. Rumsey #11501 (this edition).