Some musicians just like a good concept album. They do. The repeat offenders out there simply can’t stop trying to cram a narrative into a CD or several sides of vinyl (hello Ray Davies, Pete Townshend and, well, any number of death metal artists really).
Others start with a more abstract concept and with all the obsessive compulsion they can muster, somehow manage to spin twenty songs out of it. And this is most definitely where Sufjan Stevens comes in. Schmaltzy Noelaholic Mariah Carey has only managed to squeeze out two volumes of holiday cheer in nearly twenty five years, while Sufjan has managed ten in less than ten.
And then there is his legendary ‘50 State Project’, with each state destined to receive its own tribute in the shapely form of a Sufjan Stevens album. The first ‘Michigan’ presented a suite of songs inspired by people, places and events connected with the state and he continued the formula with ‘Illinois’, lacing it with additional religious and bible themes.
In a 2009 interview in Paste Magazine, the horrible truth came out that ‘the whole premise was such a joke, and I think maybe I took it too seriously’. Speaking about the ‘creative crisis’ that followed Illinois the indie king of concept albums, he admitted ‘I no longer really have faith in the album anymore. I no longer have faith in the song’. He does indeed seem to have abandoned his former concept digging ways, and has diverted most of his recent attentions to making music with alternative hip-hop supergroup Sisyphus.
It’s perhaps understandable how Stevens lost his zeal for the concept album - when you take your concepts that far, burnout at some point seems inevitable. He has left behind the strange legacy of his unfulfilled 50-State Project and, though we know it never will or ever could have been finished, wondering what completion might have been like is too delicious an idea not to entertain.
Some fans still mourn the early truncation of the project - just look at the lovely map above that Jonah Adkins spent three months making as a tribute back in 2012.
Nice Map! & Still Mourning The Early Truncation Of The 50 States Project.
Excited To Release An Open #Cartography Project Tomorrow. Built With @esri & @mapbox. Stay Tuned. #gis
Released A New Jungle Cruise Print Today! Check It Out - http://bit.ly/IBLvxC #maps #disney #junglecruise
#gisink at the #esriuc ? YES!! (at Nothing Sacred Tattoo)
Very Pleased To Share A Company Project I Recently Helped With. Here’s Our Marketing Line For It —
"…Today we are launching a new campaign called GIS Ink. What is GIS Ink? It’s both a play on our name and a fun, interesting way to use Esri’s story map capabilities that are part of ArcGIS Online (you know we’re map geeks, right?). We think a tattoo is similar to a map in that it’s a very visual way to communicate something.
More about that play on words - here it is in a nutshell:
The official name of our company is Geographic Information Services, Inc.
Geographic Information Services, Inc is abbreviated GISi.
GISi is pronounced “GIS Inc.”
The “Inc.” in GIS Inc. sounds like “Ink”.
Ink = Tattoo = Which, as mentioned above, is a fun and different idea for a webmap.
We’re sure you might have questions, like…
So what is GIS Ink?
Basically, it’s a website for people to submit photos of tattoos. You’ll be able to see submissions and view them via a webmap. The submissions will eventually be voted on to selected winners.
How do I participate?
By submitting a photo of your tattoo! There are two categories for entries: (1) tattoos that are GIS or location related or (2) a tattoo from a person who works in the GIS industry (even if the tattoo is not GIS related).
How do I win?
There will be a winner for each of the two categories. Winners will be chosen based off of the total number of votes they have for their tattoo. The voting feature is not currently active but will begin on Monday June 24th. So use the social media links on the site to spread the word about your tattoo, get votes, and win something awesome.
It might seem pretty obvious to you that you won, simply by the number of votes you have versus other contestants after July 7th, 2013 at 11:50 CST. But we will be announcing the official winner for each submission category at the Esri UC in July. Winners will be notified by email, snail mail, or by phone. We cannot notify by smoke signal at this time.
Where can I submit my ink?
Visit the website www.gis-ink.com and click the Submit Your Ink link at the top.
Finally, when you leave the site, we would like you to remember GIS Ink. Remember how great it is to be a part of this industry and how refreshing it is to be surrounded by individuals who truly love what they do. When you think of all the things a tattoo can symbolize - a passion, a commitment, or a story, this whole crazy thing starts to make more sense. Our GIS community embodies all of those things…and it’s our own unique “ink”. It’s our GIS Ink….”