All posts tagged with 'maps'
11 a.m., Saturday, April 16, room 716 | Faculty respondent: Ted Byfield
Art and Aura in Google’s Virtual Earth
Google Earth’s uncanny photorealism is made possible by a chaotic mash-up of tools that function to mimic seamlessness. The Google Art Project, which began with the digitizing of paintings in the Prado Museum in Madrid has snowballed into a massive endeavor in which over 1000 paintings have been digitally rendered using the same gigapixel technology that gave Google Earth’s geographic renderings such authority. Google’s Street View technology allows users to “walk” through museums, maintaining the aura of the gallery space yet giving viewers a power beyond patronage– probing into the paintings to such a degree that the naked eye and museum curators do not allow. In Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction Walter Benjamin exalts film for its potential to dissolve the aura of art– massifying aesthetics and preparing them for political efficacy. While Google’s virtual paintings can at once be taken up as a reproduction beyond that of film, probing more deeply into art forms that ever before possible, the museum is nonetheless maintained as the contextual auratic basis for the paintings. Google at once revokes the authority of the museum from the exhibition of art and at the same time reinforces it by objectifying art objects through the power of the index.
Supplementary materials: Google Art Project
Small Town Drift
Broadly speaking, psychogeography describes the composite “feeling” of a given area. Factors such as architecture, the human population, and sensory elements combine to create a sort of environmental aura. These auras form psychic rivers and dams, creating a flow through the urban setting. Every manmade environment has a pyschogeography, but familiarity often obscures it. To rediscover psychogeographies, the Situationaliste Internationale (SI) group practiced the dérive, or “drift” in the 1950s. The dérive involved exploring new urban environments with the specific intention of attuning to their auras. Often, this took place in the form of following random directions or playing nonsensical games.
The SI practiced the dérive in Paris, eventually producing the famous psychogeographical map “The Naked City.” In the decades since, many other psychogeographical groups have used dérive techniques to create nontraditional maps of major cities, such as Berlin, New York, and San Francisco. Having recently moved to a small Pennsylvania town, I was curious as to whether the theories behind the dérivecould be applied in a less metropolitan environment. For the “Small Town Drift” project, I completed several dérives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Data was collected in the form of notes and photographs, which were then compiled into journal entries and synthesized into maps. I have presented the results as a web site, located at wataingi.com/drift. For many years, psychogeographical studies have focused solely on areas of high population density. In this project, I have attempted to take the dérive out of the city.
Mapping Flowspace in an Urban Mileu
Mapping Flowspaces explores the optics of understanding urban space in the media city through urban mapping. It is an interdisciplinary, theoretical and empirical investigation that challenges notions of the urban site as a destination for tourist experiences, real estate interests, or as a product of symbolic interpretations.
In the format of a book, I have created ‘a place of thought’ that invites for unconventional thinking about the logics of the urban environment. The book is breaking with its own format with Deleuzian-inspired plateaus and flight lines interrupting the building-up of a methodology of urban mapping. The project grows from an empirical investigation of an urban intersection in Clinton Hill in Brooklyn, inspired by the philosophies of Kevin Lynch and Italo Calvino. Through a ‘rhizome analysis’ I identify flowspaces of ambiguous morphologies, framework grids, locomotive assemblies and temporary landings, and visualize these in graphic maps, collected in a final urban mapping of the site that formulates basic principles behind media urbanism. Throughout the study, concepts are explored and collected in an ‘urban dictionary’ that supports the developing methodology.
The project suggests that a spatial perception of any urban site derives from the qualitative mode of the experience of it, informed by a web of flowspaces, bringing historical, cultural, geographical and abstract contexts into the urban milieu. The project aims at raising discussion about the interpretation of contemporary urbanization processes in the digital media paradigm.
Supplementary materials: Book: “A Project of Mapping Flowspace in an Urban Milieu”
Walk Up Look Down
For almost a decade, philosophers of history have been debating the possibilities of approaching history in a fragmented, non-narrativist and non-linear way. Pierre Nora, in his famous Lieux de Mémoire project, has indicated the close ties between (politics of) memory and history, causing an expansion of the field of memory studies. In his final work Memory, History, Forgetting Paul Ricoeur appointed the reciprocal relationship between collective and individual memory, as well as between these types of memory and the act of forgetting. The Dutch philosopher of history Frank Ankersmit argued for an attitude towards history that focuses on (subjective) experiences of history instead of on notions like truth, language and meaning, because these cannot properly grasp or represent histories’ real essences. Finally, in an article published in 2006 in the influential journal History and Theory, Eelco Runia has replaced Ankersmits call for experience with a call for presence. Presence, as defined by Runia, comprehends the desire to be in touch with reality, a desire to be in touch with things that have ceased or are going to cease to exist. This desire is not related to obtaining knowledge about the past, but to profoundly experiencing the past, be momentarily overwhelmed by it, and give a place to it in the present – in this way defining the past as something that can literally be visited by means of walking along it. Moreover, Runia relates presence to the notion of the surprise: he argues that presence is always relating to something new, to a new perspective on something absent, that could not be grasped in an earlier stage. As soon as the ‘topic’ is taken for granted, it is present, but has no longer presence.
Runia’s spatial conception of history and time can be juxtaposed to conceptions that focus on linearity and the accumulation of meaning. At The New School’s ‘Critical Themes in New Media Studies’ conference, we would like to scrutinize this juxtaposition by comparing the very ‘spatial’ city landscape of Manhattan to the very ‘linear’ and flat Dutch landscape. Can the landscape of Manhattan be read as a clear generator of presence? And is the linearity of the Dutch landscape evoking a linear (and therefore meaningful) reading of it? The spatiality of the city, caused by its height and its variety, offers the possibility to literally delve into it – a capacity that a flat landscape lacks. In addition, it enables different types of spectatorship – one can be a spectator to it as well as a participant. A flat landscape generates homogeneity: everything is visible, readable, and causal. However, as a former property, Manhattan breathes the historical presence of the Dutch.
Our project will result in an edition of folded posters of which on side can be read as a text and the other functions as an illustrated map. Drawings of different levels of height and from various perspectives will be combined with (fragments of) the analytical text on the subject of presence. Taking on Runia’s concept of walking as method for experiencing presence, the map will form an alternative guide to travel Manhattan from artistic point of view, pointing out different modes or (artistic) conceptions of presence. At the conference we would like to present the theoretical background in a talk before handing over the maps to the participants.
Brigitta van Weeren (Rotterdam, 1986) is an artist and graduate student at Fine Arts Arnhem. She is interested in the transformation of the city, and the urban landscape and its scale. Her work includes installations, maps and photography. She develops public space projects and works at a project management and research office in the field of culture-based planning. email@example.com | www.brigittavanweeren.com