Tuesday, August 28, 2007

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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mashup
Anyhow, mashup is not only a thing, an idea…it’s a word describing a process and a product not unlike a mapping. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gisuser/sets/1075031/ )

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.

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