Friday, August 31, 2007

million dollar blocks

I’m a little unsatisfied by the million dollar block article. They map from crime locations, to prison admissions by census tract, to pop in poverty by census tract and then to migration to prison expenditures by census block. It seems by isolating the block they really need to zoom back out to a county scale. What I really want to see is a county scale mapping that puts these million dollar blocks in the context of the their administrative county to really see what the civic infrastructures are that they are constantly referring to. Where are the schools? What civic institutions do these counties have? Is it a block problem? A county wide problem? A neighborhood problem? In basic terms I think that Corner would support the spatial information design lab’s efforts but I think the mappings are a bit to premature in asking questions about policy and place.

Citizen Mapping

courtesy Royksopp:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Citizen as 'sampling' of the person

"You might be a person, but you are not a citizen until you are recorded in a database". This notion of citizen as a 'sampling' of the person is in some ways frightening: we are viewed as bits of data with a prescribed set of acceptable actions, all of which can be mapped in a database. Even unacceptable actions, like crime. In fact, criminal acts themselves are the target of certain crime databases, and the actors themselves, while of course responsible (if we follow Camus), are not the true subject of inquiry. Kurgan argues that we need to look at where the bad guys live so that we may re-focus the enormous stream of resources into improving those zones of dense criminal habitation. Perhaps they only become criminals because we deprive them of the necessary infrastructure to remain as "acceptable" bits of data.

Corner might say that the extraction of prisoners' addresses in the migration maps is a bit limited in scope--we know so little about who is going to prison, or for how long, or why they are migrating. (In some way could the map be more like the map of Napoleon's army, more temporal in nature) Hence the plotting, while initially fantastic in seeing all these little threads dispersed across NY and tied to these blocks of land in Brooklyn, tell a one-liner story, which I don't think is fair to the author's intent.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles


While it seems a logical step in the process of mapping our “world” to use information from GIS to quantify and lay-out the multiple issues, processes, infrastructures, and physicalities available to us, I find Corner’s discussion on drift to be one of the more compelling techniques that he urges we assume in our mapping practices.

Is a reader of a map not handicapped if he lacks a basic appreciation of temporal and sensory knowledge of the site (which, I presume, GIS lacks in it’s multitude of data)?

The Situationists understood the importance of the individual’s experience as a valid form of data to be somehow quantified: his ability to lend his perception of a space, his sensory and physical ability to experience it, and his (presumed) goal of revealing the unexplored or “unacceptable” to the reader; and thus making a site familiar. (Quite the task!)

It seems that deriving will become one of the penultimate tasks in being able to understand and ultimately inform our site(s); yet quantifying this information from our experiences into digital 2-D format may be the most challenging task.

If our aim is to have mapping practices play a more intensive and creative role in design and planning, are we limiting ourselves by staying in an abstract 2-D representation (utilizing GIS, maps, modeling, Illustrator)? If the Situationists could have utilized today’s technology, would they not only have you view 2-D representations of a site based on their explorations, but also allow you to listen to the audio of a person transversing the area, while simultaneously watching a video of a pedestrian experience of the site? Or is this no longer mapping?

Edvin_Bylander on Corner

One thing that pop up in my mind as I read Corner, is a concept me and a friend was joking about last summer. We were talking about "future memories" i.e. dreams / future plans that never became reality. Somehow these dreams are important even though you didn't fulfill them. The dreams and plans are as much a part of a human being's life as all other events that "actually happened".
According to this, the spacial timeline of a person's life would be a tracing, one path, but all of the memories would be the map of the life that actually was lived. A person might at one point rewrite the route through the map for instance in the case of senility, letting one part of their "life-rhizome" grow to re-order the past chronology. Someone might for instance at an old age remember a high-school crush as the love of her life in favor for a partner since 40 years.

This is maybe in one way un-mappable, but that might not be the most interesting. The big question is rather if it only is a metaphor?
Another objective that I find important is what would be the right word for reality? If all realities are equal in one sense, how do you sort out the ones that are un-real, not inte the meaning of fictional, abstract or immaterial, but the ones that simply is spam or badly put together?

anna carlsson-Reading Response

I find the most interesting and most important thing about mapping to be that it brings the design process closer to other professions and other professions closer to us. It could be a tool for architects and urban designers to collect, arrange and use the infinite amount of information we are surrounded by directly in the design. It also allows us to open our minds and look past our regular ways of entering the design process and might lead us to new interesting approaches and widen the idea of space.

I had some confusing experience of, what was then called mapping, once in a workshop but the Corner text made me realize that I might have been exposed to a part of what has given mapping a some of a bad reputation. The workshop was about what Corner describes in the chapter "Layering", dividing a project into layers and superimposing them to reach a "stratified amalgam of relationships amongst parts appears". In this workshop the technique was used mostly to create a visual experiment which reduced the theory to a visualizing tool. All the participants of the workshop ended up doing fancy patterns of historical maps and water and sewage systems, which I hope not is the purpose of it all.

not 3 A.M. (yet)

Begin with a suggestion--"Make a map not a tracing"--Deleuze & Gauttari. We are to imagine mapping as a constructive act, for we are actually building 'reality' (from now on this semester 'reality' can only appear in quotes, how destabilizing). I see the rich potential of mapping in a twofold manner: one, "mapping itself participates in any future unfoldings", that is the map is the generator of action; and two, we as map-makers are participatory in the map itself. There is no such thing as a completely detached observer. The map is to be our most creative act, for within the frame we set out, or game-board, or plane of consistency, we are determining the set of possibilities that our designs will eventually manifest within.

Corner embraces subjectivity as a means of emancipation from authoritative dictations from a single, hegemonizing source--traditional city planners, for example. What's wrong with traditional city planning and the ostensibly objective maps those planners use? There are many ways to read a landscape, as the Situationists exemplified with their wanderings and carving up of the habitual cityscape. Also from Banham who looked at the contemporary city such as LA and said "hey, this mashup might be a good thing", mashup not being possible in a top-down world. David Harvey insists as well that the "multiplicity of urban processes cannot be contained within a singular fixed spatial frame". Is this exciting new ground for architects or merely stating that our job is impossible?

Tension between the territory and the map is interesting to me as grounds for architectural intervention. Corner seems to agree with Baudrillard and Winnicott that there is no point distinguishing between territory and map, reality and representation, or at least that it is no longer meaningful). In fact, we may find new ground by ignoring these artificial (or "real") distinctions and instead look for ways to absorb everything around us, like a rhizome perhaps, inseparable from the milieu. Mapping can help to reveal previously unseen or latent possiblities on turf that we might have thought we were familiar with. All it takes is a will to action, and then we begin to re-frame our reality whether it be to layer multiple realities or create an equal playing field for a diverse set of players to interact. Corner is advocating mapping as an open-ended process, one which is not intended to say "this is the territory, this is literally what is there" but rather "this is one of many ways to see what is there" and through this new looking glass we may envision possiblities that we did not see before.


fantastic google maps/census data mash-ups:

oxford english dictionary

chris dobosz_reading response

from the Oxford English Dictionary:

map, n.

I. A chart, plan, diagram, etc.

1. a. A drawing or other representation of the earth's surface or a part of it made on a flat surface, showing the distribution of physical or geographical features (and often also including socio-economic, political, agricultural, meteorological, etc., information), with each point in the representation corresponding to an actual geographical position according to a fixed scale or projection; a similar representation of the positions of stars in the sky, the surface of a planet, or the like. Also: a plan of the form or layout of something, as a route a building, etc.

A quite-rough first pass at organizing my thoughts:

Surface & Projection

Mapping is tied etymologically to the idea of surface. However, Corner writes early about the “surface of the map,” implying that the map is not solely a surface and that data reside in relation to (i.e. above, below, before, after, during) that surface. Along with a metaphorical layering, or projection, of data onto the surface to create information, there may be a tangible component as well, such as “natural processes” and “historical events and local stories” - notably, Corner doesn’t explain his distinction – that resides beyond the surface. Conceptually, is indeed the surface where these meet? And how does one pinpoint histories on a map? Later, he acknowledges this depth, in how a “map permits a kind of excavation (downward) and extension (outward) to expose, reveal and construct latent possibilities within a greater milieu."

Data, Information, Aesthetics & Form

Based on Corner’s premise that mapping is a speculative, efficacious, under-recognized and under-utilized tool for architectural and urbanistic production, it seems like a fundamental area of inquiry is the analysis of any such mapping. Specifically, its relationship to architectural form and the processes by which gleaned information and/or relationships are aestheticized. Datascape-type projects, among others, seem to literally translate data into a spatial field, which can be directly become architectural form. A literal example might be MVRDV’s “maximum zoning envelope” city. Likewise, I believe that one of Libeskind’s conceits for his (first) Jewish Museum was that the architectural form was, at least in part, determined by mapping addresses of the deceased in Berlin - in this case, data become information and architectural form.

Corner quotes the philosopher Brand Blanshard, ‘space is simply a relation of systematized outsideness, by itself neither sensible nor imaginable’ and asserts “it is created in the process of mapping.” (229) When analyzing a mapping, are you creating spaces or relationships that need to be further translated – spatialized – by some other process? Essentially, are you taking the form of the map or the idea of map? Do what the data look like, or what they mean?

Do the notions of the analogous and abstractness figure into this, in how a mapping has a requisite structural similarity to reality, but is inevitably different?

Role of the Spatial Designer in Today’s Milieu

Corner advocates for mapping as a catalytic tool that facilitates a wider understanding of site and potential of latent physical and mental connections. Less clear is what role the architect, or more broadly, the spatiotemporal designer can occupy in today’s society. Corner relays Koolhaas’s assertion that the shackling of planning (in historic city centers) or that the generic city condition has rendered planners impotent.

Is mapping a way to reassert the architect’s place in society? Does the technique change the role of the designer in a way that universal-planning could not? He notes how humanity has reached a point where “local economies and cultures are tightly bound into global ones, through which effects ripple with enormous velocity and consequence” and cites an “excess of communication.” A Manhattanite, (Kansan or New Yorker) might plausibly be more familiar with French politics than local school board debate.

However, in Corner’s seemingly familiar call to arms about a networked interconnectedness, I wonder how Harvey’s utopia of process, of which mapping is a promising tool, interacts with a world where “ten-mile linear cities are built in southeast Asia in a matter of months, seemingly constructed out of nothing…”


Fuller’s 1943 Airocean mappings look a lot like the developed elevations of HdeM’s Prada Tokyo and are morphologically similar. (219)

Corner doesn’t mention William H Whyte nor Kevin Lynch – are they too clinical?

Can you (deliberately) mis-map?

The notion of a wind-shadow is incredibly evocative. (247)

Does a mapping have to be planimetric?

How do you discern the thresholds between so-called rigorous mapping and willful composition? How did Peter Eisenman do so at Long Beach, Wexner, Galicia, etc.? (239)

Did Nolli make a map or a plan?

Are you fast or are you fasting? If time is so fast right now, where and when and how is it slow?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

cindy moon_reading response

In my mind, mapping is usually for analysis. However, Corner said mapping has more possibilities than what we thought before. As we mentioned in class, information is over flooding. To make it useful to act in real life, we need to re-create the information and mapping could be one of the useful ways.

Through the mapping, as corner said, information enables to reveal, actualize and make relation from hidden potential status. After it becomes living context, it could perform as cultural intervention.

Mapping is considered as neutral because it doesn’t mean beginning nor end but is about relationship or middle of some uncertain question. So mapping is usually used to search for relation which looks like that there is no relationship but there is something.

Even though corner wrote about possibility of mapping, I am little bit skeptical because it is sometimes impossible to express that emotional relationship between people or between cities and people by mapping. We could explain the situation verbally and understand, however, it is not easy to make data as mapping. For example, I don’t like to see homeless people during night and it could be understandable to everyone. However, I don’t know what street I will walk to escape from them. And how I can make mapping which I don’t know and I don’t decide. Just spreading out the possibilities is not going to be the mapping, is it?
So I really want to experience that what is the limitation of mapping and how I can maximize its potentiality.

on mapping

When Eric used “mashup” to describe some You-tube phenomenon on Monday, I was reminded of my substandard pop culture reservoir. For anyone else uncertain, here’s the brief wikipedia entry:
Anyhow, mashup is not only a thing, an idea…it’s a word describing a process and a product not unlike a mapping. ( )

I digress before I begin.

My understanding of mappings as described by Corner is that they are as much about the process as the product (if not more) and that abstraction and extraction are the vehicles by which mapping(s) becomes generative. Discoveries and latent interpretations of information/data/space/place follow a non-determinist process of documentation. Mapping offers a perspectival shift and reorientation of the contents and boundaries of systems.

“Mapping” triggers neurons that harbor memories of Deleuze and Guattari’s discussion of the “abstract machine.” It’s probably an unfair butchering of their careful phrase, but add a suffix and the resulting “abstraction machine” might be what we’re looking for in mapping. Mapping gives us an ownership over space; “[space] is created in the process of mapping” (Corner, p 229).

Corner’s presentation of Eisenman induces the most skepticism and confusion. “Evolving” a project from mappings of site and milieu sounds fine indeed, but I’m unconvinced by what follows: “ ‘the overlapping registration of several maps…are combined in such a way that none of the notations takes precedence over any other, and so as to textualize coincidental overlaps by subjective interpretation’ “ (Eisenman in Corner, p 239). How exactly is subjective interpretation achieved by an intentional non-hierarchical combination? Isn’t that tautological? Or too literal a means of achieving a mapping? Or guaranteed to lead to grayness? Maybe there’s a step missing, in which the non-hierarchical soup is stirred and seasoned.

Usually we think of re-reading as an act of refamiliarizing, but here is seems that the re-reading should impel a de-familiarizing and reinterpretation—a way to “visualize the invisible” (Maas, p 246).

Two images: one, a street corner at a studio site in SF; the other, from Perspecta 25, produced by the Laborotorio de Urbanismo de Barcelona.

Maps of Internet infrastructure

Between stirring hard surface and emerging hidden reality

Recently, I’ve been looking at the Chora’ works with their projects like ‘Stirring the city’ or ‘Urban flotsam’ and tried to understand meaning of every single piece of maps.
But it’s hard.
Like James Corner said, Raoul Bunshoten’s mapping is appeared in different angle from Rem Koolhaas or Peter Eisenman. Not just drifting, layering, but as a game-board. Game means making an individual play rule and actioning it and enjoying or waiting unexpected results. I couldn’t understand all his rules and action methods but in the middle of reading, I became curios about what is the boarder of map between map stirring action or idea and sketch or diagram on the abstract boundary of existing map.
I am not skeptical on Chora group’s works. Rather, I really like their new methodology of urbanism but just wonder of what is the limit of mapping.
If map is a tool for communication with certain information, maps having a code which should be decoded by a rule of action like Chora’s map can be defined as a map? If communication is not matter on the map, what would be a difference between maps and diagrams?

Jungmi Won

The part that I found interesting in the Corner reading was the part about play. What I understood was that to try and distinguish between the real and virtual is to miss the point completely because to distinguish between the two is to be external to the imagination. To make static a reciprocating relationship. Our participation is what forms space we might think of as inviolate. As someone who feels that to this day they have failed at creating a successful mapping I find comfort in this. The process is what seems important and can actually feed future mappings. I also wonder about the value of one dimensional mapping because they seem to record a specific moment of a dynamic relationship. With new types of technology and the advent of wireless and mobile technology the possibility for a constantly updating field seems promising. It makes me think of the possible mapping potential of an application like twittervision...

and in response to beth’s post…

simon patterson’s version of the tube map featuring philosophers, film stars etc.

Artificial Geometries

Just something to tickle your brain:

You have your "standard" map of the London Tube:

And the geographically acturate representation:

Subjective Rhizomes

Yes Nick, start the Corner piece. You should have something posted here by about 3AM. I've been slogging through it on and off all day. I did find the things that I could understand interesting.

I liked the idea that maps are instruments that influence perceptions of place, that they carry a force. I also like the idea of maps as layered, multidimensional readings as opposed to static empirical documents. This speaks to the discussion about using technology in a less representational manner, not just to get bus schedules. However, mapping data like atmosphere is somewhat like mapping buses, it suggests a temporal diagram, one that is constantly shifting.

A map of the atmosphere would certainly begin to embody the thematic concepts discussed in the Corner piece, namely that of 'rhizome' (a map that burrows and extends?). Acting as an underlay for other urban characteristics, socio-political data in particular, it also begins to explore layering and the 'game-board'. Maybe we are the 'drift'.

I think one of the most exciting things is to really look at mapping as a creative activity, even though it is suggested that 'objective analysis' not be abandoned for 'free-form subjectivity', I'll push for it anyway.

urban exploration

On BLDGBLOG I read a fascinating article about a guy who has been exploring drainage tunnels in Ontario, and one thing that really interested me was this idea that the network of drainage tunnels is really like an artificial map or abstraction of the (pre)existing watershed. Here's the link:
Michael Cook's Vanishing Point

(Oh whoops, I'm probably supposed to be reading the Corner article!)


something to peruse when you have a few minutes:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007