Curatorial Projects > Here Be Dragons: Mapping Information and Imagination (2011-12)

JD Beltran & Scott Minneman
Magic Story Table (detail), 2009–2011
Custom electronics

The Magic Story Table fuses maps, text, images, sound, interactivity, and storytellers’ own voices. You can tilt the table, and virtually fly all over the world to discover stories on the treasure map of the world. Turning the tabletop zooms into specific story locations and treats viewers to a visual and sound experience – you can witness where the story took place by listening to the individual who wrote it tell that story in their own voice. In late 2008, artists JD Beltran, Scott Minneman, and Dale McDonald and the writing team of author Stephen Elliott and 826 Valencia tutors asked high school students from John O’Connell Public High School, “What are the most memorable moments in your lives – and where did they happen?” Elliott and 826 Valencia assisted in the story-editing process, and Beltran set these stories and visual imagery to their locales upon the Magic Story Table. The project debuted at 826 Valencia in early 2009. This project was originally commissioned by The San Francisco Arts Commission, and was also made possible by a generous technology donation from Onomy Labs. The Cleveland IngenuityFest later commissioned a Magic Story Table with stories from the Greater Cleveland Area, which debuted in July 2009. This past year, CEC Artslink commissioned Magic Stories: St. Petersburg that was exhibited at the Pro Arte Gallery in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Magic Stories: Bishkek, that is currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts in Bishkek, Krygyzstan.

For this exhibition, stories from youth participants working with Shi Yu-Lang YMCA (just several blocks from here) have been incorporated into the table. In a workshop led by Indira Allegra, with audio recordings made with the assistance of Tarek Al-Zand, participants Jordy Cabrera, Giovanni Garcia, Marquis Hamilton “Quiso”, Khiri Roberson “Chicken”, Tyler Quach “Young T”, and Karla Vasquez explore memory, stories, and geography.

Here Be Dragons: Mapping Information and Imagination

October 21, 2011 – January 14, 2012
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA

Photo credit: Scott Chernis