Literature is riddled with dead or otherwise missing mothers. Virginia Woolf's life and writing were partly, yet significantly guided by the death of her mother when Woolf was just 13 years-old. This loss reappears across her novels. As an artist, I am interested in studying both her writing and her as a woman who experienced this early and profound loss. Conceptually, this work is supported by continued research to advance the trope of the missing mother. Mapping Mrs. Dalloway represents a new way of visualizing text and image within my practice by incorporating data mapping in this new work.
For Mapping Mrs. Dalloway, I walked the streets of London and photographed along the path that Mrs. Dalloway walks in the novel. In doing so, I brought the walking path and Mrs. Dalloway forward 90 years into the present. These are the same streets that Woolf herself walked countless times. My intention was not to illustrate the novel, but instead to use stream of consciousness in capturing the images. This mirrors the literary strategy of the novel. This project challenged me to photograph in a new way. I was limited to a specific amount of time while in England. I knew where I would walk but I was not certain what I would actually find. As each day passed, I became more familiar with the sense of place created by the movement of people in the city and the project evolved.
After returning from England, I selected 17 images from London. To bear witness to the spaces that Woolf occupied while writing Mrs. Dalloway, I included 3 images from Monk's House or the house of Virginia and Leonard Woolf in Rodmell, East Sussex UK; a view into her bedroom window, her writing lodge and the orchard in between. I then divided the text of the novel into 20 sections. Using software called Processing, each section is then visualized as a word count of the novel and layered over an image in the series. The circles grow larger the more often a particular word was repeated. The green that ls used for the data mapping was color matched from photographs I took of the wall paint while inside of Monk's House. The data visualization both obscures and reveals information within each image. I perceive the interaction of the mapping within each image as moments of loss.
WMU ScholarWorks Citation
Little, Adriane, "Mapping Mrs. Dolloway" (2018). Faculty Research and Creative Activities Award (FRACAA). 65.