Wednesday, August 29, 2007

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.

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