November 1: Multimodality, Multivocality + Deep Mapping

Koolhaas/OMA, Singapore Songlines, via Singapore Planning and Urban Research

Map Critiques: Ayesha, Reem, Briana, Claudio



Ian Biggs, “Deep Mapping as an ‘Essaying’ of Place,” Presented at “Writing” Seminar, Bartlett School of Architecture; reprinted on IanBiggs [blog post] (July 9, 2010).

David J. Bodenhamer, John Corrigan, and Trevor M. Harris, Eds., Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2015).

Martin Dodge, “Cartography I: Mapping Deeply, Mapping the Past,” Progress in Human Geography 41:1 (2017): 1-10.

Adam Frampton, Jonathan D. Solomon & Clara Wong, Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook (ORO Editions, 2012).

Todd Presner, David Shepard & Yoh Kawano, HyperCites: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press / metaLab Projects, 2014).

Martino Stierli, Las Vegas in the Rearview Mirror: The City in Theory, Photography, and Film (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, [2010] 2013): 109-190 [on photographic and filmic mapping in the VSB Yale Studio]

8 Replies

  • The definition of Deep Mapping I identified with most was from the Les Roberts text: “The deep map is a utopian imaginary of space inasmuch as it strives to frame or in some way open itself up to that which is lived”. I like it because it attempts to subjectify and give voice to the human experience of space. It privileges experience over representation. At a time when writers are increasingly recognizing the intersectionality and instability of socially-constructed identity markers like culture, gender, race, and sexuality, I wonder how deep mapping could be used to explore experience over representation.

    Take for example the current controversy over confederate statues in the US. Deep mapping using spectral traces could provide a “language of belonging, even as such traces speak of past loss” that allows for the creation of monuments (or maps?!) that “open themselves up to that which is lived” in order for the public to engage with (rather than just ‘remember’) historical (and current) structures of domination in the US. A good example of this would be the Virtual Jamestown project from the Spectral Traces exhibition.

    • Thanks, Sophie, for highlighting the importance of thinking *beyond* representation toward experience, evocation, etc. “Spectral traces,” however we might choose to render them on a map, are one means of cultivating a sense of belonging while still acknowledging wounds and loss.

  • Described as “fragile and temporary” (Mattern) and a verticality or “The plumbing of a place’s depth” (Roberts), the idea of deep mapping appears in my mind as an attempt to capture a depth of understanding of a place that might in some way prove or at least demonstrate its vast interconnection with far away lands and long-forgotten beings and moments and to reveal the palimpsestic nature of the place. Especially in today’s globalized cities, this kind of “plumbing” could be a powerful tool in revealing the vast value in a global-systems-thinking based understanding of place (to deeply know that which is being mapped) rather than the reductive and neat articulations of space we tend to prefer.

    These articles made me think of the ways that I often try to explain the Theories of Urban Practice program to people… it’s a sort of pulling apart, and excavation of the overlapping systems of history, materiality, relationships etc, that make up the complex web that is the city. In the program, I have found that it is this process of trying to pull apart and peer into these tightly wound layers that make the city that has transformed my understanding of the world more than any one product or paper. The process of excavating an understanding of a place through its layers of time and space and into a hodgepodge of the materiality, infrastructure, poetry, and the ephemeral what-once-was (heard, seen, felt in a place..) is clearly a complex and worthwhile practice, but I can’t help but wonder: is the process of deep mapping perhaps more interesting and important than whatever the final product of a deep map might be? Is it useful to separate the process and the product out from one another in order to truly understand the potential of this practice?

    • Thanks, Jessica, for evoking the palimpsest. I’m glad you see some parallels between this cartographic approach and the methods that are central to TUP! And yes, I do think that the *process* of producing these multivocal, cross-temporal maps can be just as, if not more, important as/than the product. You might recall that we said the same of cognitive mapping a few weeks ago: the dialogue that emerges in producing the map is just as important as the map.

  • In Shannon Mattern’s Deep Mapping the Media City, she touches the subject how infrastructures shape media cities. On page 7, as I read, “The infrastructures of a chirographic culture-of writing-have also informed, for millennia, how cities took shape,” I was reminded of a trip I took to Istanbul, Turkey. Although I am unable to read these inscriptions on the buildings, what is described by tour guides and friends, such as the writing inside the Hagia Sophia, provided me an understanding of what it was once like and what is the future of the archaeological site. Once a cathedral built at Constantinople, the Hagia Sophia was re purposed after the Turkish conquest of Constantinople as a mosque with addition of minarets, a pulpit, and disks bearing Islamic calligraphy. In addition, the church/mosque was beautifully decorated with mosaics during the Byzantine period. These mosaics depicted Virgin Mary, Jesus, and saints. Many of these were destroyed or covered during Iconoclasm. In 1931, the mosaics started to be uncovered or unsurfaced, almost like conservationists are peeling back the layers of history.

  • While reading Shannon Mattern’s piece, Deep Mapping the Mediated City, the acoustic media forms of cities, particularly the “archeoacoustics” of the “sonic city” (12), reminded me of the changing architectural forms of theatre spaces in dialectic with shifting cultural norms around experiencing performance, particularly in Western (European) culture. In an acoustically perfect Greek amphitheater, where thousands would gather to hear the chorus sing in community and catharsis, few could see but all could hear. The Christian morality play of the Middle Ages, performed on the steps of the church, enforced the baseness of the mortal audience and the transcendental authority of Catholicism. Shakespearean stages sorted their audience members by class into physical levels, with the gentry above and the working people in “the pit” (who would associate Hamlet with a good “mosh”?). The horseshoe shaped seating of Baroque theatre showcased the high drama of the aristocracy in their box seats just as much as the drama onstage. When German composer (and possible narcissist) Wagner built theaters specifically for his operas, the modern wedge-shaped auditorium was used with alternating seating, so that those viewing his masterpiece would not be distracted, visually or acoustically, from his great masterpieces.
    Like Mattern’s framework for assessing the historically mediated city, understanding this history may offer a perspective into the temporal entanglement of audience/performance dynamics today; rather than a linear progression of forms, theatre audience spaces in the West are palimpsests of residual forms.

    • Excellent, Tim! I love how you frame these evolving sites of public performance and discourse as embodiments of social politics — a politics that is multisensorial.

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