Artist Uses Directions Drawn By Strangers To Create Crowd Sourced Map Of Manhattan

When is the last time you used hand-drawn directions to navigate from one location to another? In the age of Google Maps and smartphone GPS, we can't blame you if your answer is somewhere in the ballpark of "never" to "not since I bought a first generation iPhone."

While there might be great reason to bemoan the lost art of cartography, one artist by the name of Nobutaka Aozaki is proving that there's something endearingly magical about the act of scribbling directions without the use of a digital device. Aozaki has pieced together random hand-drawn directions he's commissioned from strangers on the street to create a sizeable, crowd-sourced map of Manhattan aptly titled "From Here to There."


Aozaki, born in Japan but based in NYC, approached a variety of passersby to obtain his map materials, asking New Yorkers to sketch streets and landmarks on everything from scraps of paper to napkins and used plates. He even dressed as a typical tourist -- baseball cap, shopping bag and all -- while frequenting busy locales around the city.

"I generally have a tendency of being fascinated by people's hand-written notes and keeping them because they are charged with their intimacy and personality," Aozaki explained in an email to The Huffington Post. "One day I had to ask directions and happened to get two hand written maps. I imagined if I asked about all the places [in Manhattan] and made a map of entire city. This idea also fitted with what I was thinking about for my art, the relationship between art and everyday and collaborative ways of making art."


The result of Aozaki's navigation adventure has produced a partially finished map of Manhattan that resembles a strange, DIY puzzle. The work is not complete yet -- judging by the images of the piece in progress, the artist still has quite a few places in the northern Manhattan left uncharted. But as far as the future of the project goes, Aozaki has this to say:

"I am not stressed about the completion of the project. It grows as I live. But I am thinking about possible ways to share the map with public."

nobutaka aozaki

nobutaka aozaki


nobutaka aozaki