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Cartographies of Place

Cartographies of Place: Navigating the Urban

Michael Darroch
Janine Marchessault
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Cartographies of Place
    Book Description:

    Media are incorporated into our physical environments more dramatically than ever before - literally opening up new spaces of interactivity and connection that transform the experience of being in the city. Public gatherings and movement, even the capabilities of democratic ideology, have been redefined. Urban Screens, mobile media, new digital mappings, and ambient and pervasive media have all created new ecologies in cities. How do we analyze these new spaces? Recognition of the mutual histories and research programs of urban and media studies is only the beginning. Cartographies of Place develops new vocabularies and methodologies for engaging with the distinctive situations and experiences created by media technologies which are reshaping, augmenting, and expanding urban spaces. The book builds upon the rich traditions and insights of a post-war generation of humanist scholars, media theorists, and urban planners. Authors engage with different historical and contemporary currents in urban studies which share a common concern for media forms, either as research tools or as the means for discerning the expressive nature of city spaces around the world. All of the media considered here are not simply "free floating," but are deeply embedded in the geopolitical, economic, and material contexts in which they are used. Cartographies of Place is exemplary of a new direction in interdisciplinary media scholarship, opening up new ways of studying the complexities of cities and urban media in a global context.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9038-0
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: Urban Cartographies
    (pp. 3-22)

    Media are connected to our physical environments more dramatically than ever before – literally opening up new spaces of interactivity and connection that transform the experience of being in the city, its forms of public gathering and movement, the democratic ideals ofcivitasof which we think the city capable. Urban screens, mobile media, new digital mappings, ambient and pervasive media of all kinds create ecologies in which entire communities dwell or in which singular entities take refuge. How do we analyze these new spaces?

    Recognition of the mutual histories and research programs of urban and media studies is only just...


    • 1 Metaphor City
      (pp. 25-40)

      To enter metaphor city is not to leave some putatively real city behind. It is not to swap the hard actuality of paving stones and glass for the imaginary meanderings of poets and dreamers. The city, as we most intimately know it, is made up of asphalt and anxiety, bricks and beliefs, concrete and confusion – an endless list of facts and fantasy and everything else in between. The anthropologist Clifford Geertz presents us with a formula for this actuality that is so staggeringly simple that it still has the power to shock: “rocks on the one hand and dreams on...

    • 2 The Virtuality of Urban Culture: Blanks, Dark Moments, and Blind Fields
      (pp. 41-54)

      What is the urban as an object of research? We tend to conflate the city and the urban, but by differentiating these two terms we are able to distinguish between the actual, material “city” and other aspects such as its character and its immanent and virtual quality of “urbanity.” If the city is the tangible “thing” and the urban refers to its intangible qualities, these two terms are in a close relationship. We often assume that a densely constructed, extensive, and diverse settlement (“the city”) is a prerequisite for an urban character to emerge.

      In use, the terms have acquired...

    • 3 Serendipitous City: In search of an Aleatory Urbanism
      (pp. 55-76)

      In a story, a legend perhaps, that is often retold but that has never quite been verified, it is said that the American sociologist William Isaac Thomas (1863–1947) was out walking alone in the rain through a Polish area of Chicago’s west side sometime in the early 1900s when he made what has subsequently come to be viewed as one of the most significant discoveries in early American urban sociology. Walking down a back alley, he tripped over a bundle of garbage, and from the bundle spilled dozens of letters, handwritten in Polish. He picked them up, and with...

    • 4 The Cartographatron – Between Media and Architecture: McLuhan, Giedion, Tyrwhitt, and Doxiadis
      (pp. 77-91)

      In order to consider the significance of the cartographatron, I have structured this chapter in two parts: the first focuses on Marshall McLuhan’s interest in architecture by examining his relationships with art historian and architecture critic Sigfried Giedion, architect Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, and architect-planner Constantinos Doxiadis within the context of the first Delos Symposium, held in Greece in 1963. In the second part, I explore the emergence of a new medium, the cartographatron, and its implications for architecture, which were elucidated by Doxiadis in the same era. My treatment of the device itself as a technological innovation will, in some measure,...

    • 5 The Artist as Urban Researcher: Research, Representation, and Image-Relations in the City
      (pp. 92-114)

      Robert Park’s classic essay “The City” describes the city as the foremost “laboratory or clinic in which human nature and social processes may be most conveniently and profitably studied” (1969, 130). The city consistently solicits such research metaphors, but if the city is a laboratory, then who is conducting the experiments? This chapter examines how contemporary artists are actively researching different dimensions of urban life – its forms, inhabitants, events, histories, and interactions – using both conventional and eclectic strategies. In light of a recent intensification of practices that take the city as an object of research in contemporary art, the concept...


    • 6 Where Are We? Who Am I?: Self-Identification with(in) the City
      (pp. 117-140)

      One of the main aspects of city life for individual subjects in the twenty-first century might well be lodged in the simple capacity of, or for, recognition. That is to say that our existence has now mainly to do with the possibility of recognizing where one is, together with who one is. On the one hand, this double-edged situation refers to the position of both the presence of the “subject” and of the “space of localization”; on the other hand, it refers to the identity of the same “subject” and of the same “space of localization.” The capacity of/for recognition,...

    • 7 The City as Gamespace: Alternate Reality Games and Other Fictions
      (pp. 141-156)

      The introduction of mobile platforms with wireless and locative technologies has led to a radical transformation of the public space, ensuring a perpetual linkage between city and Internet, between objects of the physical world and the virtual database, between local communities and virtual social networks.¹ On the one hand, real-world data are now often located on the Internet, notably through mapping software and interfaces, producing a kind of augmented virtuality; on the other hand, virtual data are now often located in real space, notably through augmented reality applications.

      The potential of this new hybrid public space, this mixed-reality city, has...

    • 8 Remapping the Space Between: Sovereignty, Globalization, and Media Representation in Rio de Janeiro
      (pp. 157-184)

      With this chapter I would like to examine the politics of Rio de Janeiro’s transformation into a “global” city since the restoration of democratic-republican rule in 1985, focusing on developments since the turn of the twenty-first century.¹ My aim is not analyze any particular political movement or party. Rather, I would like to identify conceptual markers in Rio’s social, historical, and political geographies through which Rio has emerged as a place in the world. I wish to analyze how movements between these geographic markers have been mapped and mediated so as to produce sovereign political order, or the lack thereof....

    • 9 The Urban Night
      (pp. 185-200)

      In 2010, a group of French anthropologists announced the birth of a scholarly field devoted to the study of night (Galinier et al. 2010). The object of this field would be something called “nocturnity,” defined as nighttime “transformations induced by internal and external physical changes experienced by the human body, and their cultural interpretations” (Galinier et al. 2010, 819).¹ With their emphasis on the individual human body, the founders of “nocturnity” were not centrally concerned with the place of night in the life of cities. Nevertheless, their call to study nocturnal phenomena was one culmination of two decades of rich...


    • 10 “The Company of Strangers”: Urban Cultural Diversity and Colonial Connections in Twentieth-Century Popular Fiction and Cinema
      (pp. 203-216)

      In urban cultural studies, the city is approached not so much as a physical environment, but rather as an unstable, intricate set of symbolic and material objects and practices, which are germane to the way people negotiate and construct their identities through space and generate socially relevant meaning (cf. Donald 1999). While these meanings are always ambiguous, negotiated, and contested (as are all cultural practices), they are also socially constructed (they are not private but rather collective, situated practices). Cultural studies perspectives can help in understanding these negotiations because these negotiations are mediated. The mediations that I am particularly interested...

    • 11 Mapping the Spatial Practices of the Cinema and Protest: Visualizing and Archiving the Urban Space of Tokyo
      (pp. 217-237)

      We begin with a map of Japan broadcast on Fox News shortly after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern coast of Japan on 11 March 2011.¹ Intended to familiarize viewers with the Daiichi Nuclear Power in Fukushima, site of the most serious nuclear meltdown since Chernobyl, and explosion and radiation leak caused by flooding from the tsunami, this topographical map of Japan introduces viewers to the location of major nuclear power plants that line the coasts of the country. Labeled “Japan’s Nuclear Power Plants,” the map incompletely lists only nine of sixteen actual locations of nuclear reactors...

    • 12 Cinematic Border Spaces: Translocality and the Moving Image
      (pp. 238-252)

      The promise of “world cinema,” Dudley Andrew (2006, 28) writes, is to “let us know the territory differently, whatever territory it is that film comes from or concerns.” Andrew’s pedagogical insight seems all the more pertinent for an understanding of films in which the production of “the territory” – as a geographical, political, and cultural entity – is a central problematic. This chapter concerns the ways that contemporary filmmakers have sought to map a sense of place by articulating the relations that constitute the spatiality of both local and global scales. The concept of translocality delimits the relation and interconnection between places...

    • 13 Art and the Post-Urban Condition
      (pp. 253-270)

      The year 2011 might go down on record as the year of the minivan, or at least the return of the minivan. After sales tumbled when the suv became the family vehicle of choice, advertising executives for Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda remade and marketed their minivan lines in a more masculine fashion. One might presume (or hope) that auto manufacturers would be busy retooling for peak oil. However, during the recession two principles swayed the automobile business: don’t make something new when you can simply repackage the old, and bigger cars have bigger profit margins. Both ideas were at work...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 271-294)
  10. Contributors
    (pp. 295-298)
  11. Index
    (pp. 299-309)