November 28: Mapping Sensation + Affect | Lab #5

Kate McLean’s Smell Maps

Map Critiques: Monise, Do-Hyeong, Louie

Lab: Sensory Mapping – more info here

Tactile Map, via Touch Mapper


Stuart C. Aitken & James Craine, “Affective Geovisualizations,” Directions Magazine (2006) [on film and video games as conduits for affect]; *Isobel Anderson, “Soundmapping Beyond the Grid: Alternative Cartographies of Sound,” Journal of Sonic Studies 11 (August 2015); Jennifer Arnott, “Tactile Maps and Teaching Maps Skills,” Perkins School for the Blind eLearning (May 31, 2018); William J. Broad, “A Rising Tide of Noise Is Now Easy to See,” New York Times (December 10, 2012) + National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cetacean & Sound Mapping; Sébastien Caquard & D.R. Fraser Taylor, “What Is Cinematic Cartography?” The Cartographic Journal 46:1 (2009): 5-8; Tom Conley, Cartographic Cinema (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007); Cindy Dampier, “Chicago Stinks, Especially in Summer: Find Out What Your Neighborhood Smells Like,” Chicago Tribune (July 27, 2018); Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein, “Feminist Data Visualization,” IEEE Vis (2016); Milena Droumeva, “Soundmapping as Critical Cartography: Engaging Publics in Listening to the Environment,” Communication and the Public 2:4 (2017): 335-51; Jonathan Flatley, “Affective Mapping” In Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008): 76-84; Jen Jack Gieseking, “Operating Anew: Queering GIS with Good Enough Software,” The Canadian Geographer 62:1 (2018): 55-66; *Jessica Hamilton, “Tactile Map Tile: Working Toward Inclusive Cartography,” ASLA 2017 Student Awards (2017); Victoria Henshaw, Urban Smellscapes: Understanding and Designing City Smell Environments (New York: Routledge, 2014); “Mapping Sound,” National Park Service; Shannon Mattern, “Infrastructural Tourism,” Places (July 2013); Kate McLean, “Emotion, Location and the Senses: A Virtual Dérive Smell Map of Paris,” Out of Control, Proceedings of the International Design and Emotion Conference, London, 2012; Christian Nold, biomapping; Gascia Ouzounian, “Acoustic Mapping: Notes from the Interface” in Matthew Gandy & BJ Nilsen, Eds., The Acoustic City (Berlin: Jovis, 2014): 164-73; OWjL Summer Program, “Sensory Mapping,” Mapping Weird Stuff (2009); Eric Rodenbeck, “Introducing the Atlas of Emotions, Our New Project with the Dalai Lama and Paul & Eve Ekman,” Medium (April 26, 2016) + Nicolette Hayes’ post + Paul Ekman’s Atlas of Emotions; Tania Rossetto, “The Skin of the Map: Viewing Cartography Through Tactile Empathy,” Environment and Planning D [online first] (2018): 1-21; “The Trouble With Sound Maps,” London Sound Survey (May 25, 2015); Jacqueline Waldock, “Soundmapping: Critiques and Reflections on This New Publicly Engaging Medium,” Journal of Sonic Studies 1:1 (October 2011); David Weimer, “To Touch a Sighted World: Tactile Maps in the Early Nineteenth Century,” Winterthur Portfolio 51: 2/3 (2017): 135-58.

WOMEN IN CARTOGRAPHY: Laura Bliss, “The Hidden Histories of Maps Made by Women: Early North America,” The Atlantic City Lab (March 21, 2016) [multi-part series]; Christine E. Dando, Women and Cartography in the Progressive Era (Routledge, 2018); Judith Tyner, “Mapping Women: Scholarship on Women in the History of Cartography,” Terrae Incognitae 48:1 (April 2016): 7-14.

11 Replies

  • When I started to read Samuel Thulin’s paper I wanted to smack myself in the head. I have been struggling with how I might include components of sound into my final project. Previously I had thought to myself, “well, I’ll just record sounds in the five boroughs, and embed them into a map using Carto.” However, one of the first things Thulin criticizes is this model of sound mapping. Its generic form doesn’t leave much room for the reader to explore and create different understandings.

    However, Thulin goes on to explain the role of indexicality in sound maps, which I found incredibly helpful. Even though websites like Radio Aporee pride themselves on high quality, unobstructed recording, the ability to search, and overlay sounds within the program helps to create a variety of contexts to interact with the information. The freedom to explore, and search adds another layer of understanding to the project. While these recording strive for clarity, the interface is not married to the concept. That is why Radio Aporee is not simply an index of sounds.

    It seems like Thulin learns a bit of a lesson himself in this paper when he realizes that a map can still use a standard base map, or can still relate to audio as a kind of exact data, and still be useful and transformative. I found this incredibly useful because as I said before, I haven’t been very comfortable with the idea of mapping sound. It seems to me that there are fairly simple ways to break away from the mold. There is no problem with using clear recordings, or even using a standard base map, as long it is useful in an exploratory sense. I think it is more important to make it clear that whatever is being shown is not an perfect science but rather an interpretation.

    • Thanks, Liam! I’m really glad to hear that Thulin’s piece proved so revelatory for you! I’d love to hear more in class today about what it means that “the interface is not married to the concept” — and how you might apply this idea in your own atlas.

  • This might be beyond the point of Kwan’s essay, but she confuses me when she grounds her work in non-representational theory in the first few pages. In my understanding, affect does not refer to feelings and emotions in non-representational theory. Rather feelings and emotions like anger or joy are already a contemplative reaction to previous bodily response. The call for affect as a focus on embodiment, therefore, refers to a precognitive, bodily level on which communication happens – as a counterpart to representational communication.

    In Kwan 3D geovisualisation of the Muslim woman’s urban car drive, she colored hostile blocks red and comfort zones green. This seems to cram complex bodily personal experience of space into two colors. It is true that Kwan added layers of complexity by incorporated audio clips of the woman telling her story, resulting in a video narrative. But this is not a non-representational move at all and it might just again only simplify (Muslim) women’s bodily experience. I wonder what the 3D GIS modeling could add to that, or if its mode of abstraction inherently excludes these parameters.

    • Thanks, Laura. There’s some debate over what constitutes non-representational theory; I hope we can discuss this today. I also appreciate your critique of Kwan’s work – particularly how she translates her theoretical concerns into a rather reductive graphic language. Manon shares many of your concerns!

  • Reading the Mei-Po Kwan article, I thought about how topography is represented on flat maps, using contours to represent the grade. A mile of horizontal distance takes a lot longer and is a lot more work if it is up a hill or if it is along a flat, paved walkway. Some two dimensional maps convey that information, some do not.

    A couple of the mapping projects for this class are about how space is experienced. Kwan’s visualizations approach this in a different way, but her ideas about mapping the experience of being in the space makes me want to try to make a contour map, not of elevation and the work it takes to move against gravity but of the work it takes to move against people, the designed environment, or whatever else it might be. A crowded intersection where cars are blocking the crosswalk might be a slight incline, a street closed off for construction so you can walk in the road might be a slight decline. The contours wouldn’t be static – being hijabi, icy patches, pushing a stroller, or the time of day might change what path is easier or harder.

    • Excellent, Alice. I love this idea of rendering the *frictions* and obstacles we encounter in our environments. We might relate those forces to an “uphill climb,” which would lend itself to contoured representation. Perhaps today’s exercise will generate more ideas for how we might evoke these physical or affective impediments.

  • I really enjoyed Thulin’s use of syntax in Sound Maps Matter. He created an essay that spoke to the spirit of sound mapping. One of the most compelling aspects of studying maps is the opportunity to be self indulgent when considering representation, iconography and symbolism. Thulin takes this to the sonic dimension in a thoughtful manner: “Central to the development of online cartophony is a tension between an idea of ‘phonography’ as a particular approach to field recording that prioritizes high-fidelity reproduction and representation, and the search for expansive, inclusive phonographic practice that involves a wide array of types of sound and approaches to sound production.” His appreciation for sound as a tool to provoke emotion and feeling was encouraging as I am continuing to make my maps. There is freedom in the permission to lean on more abstract forms of representation. It also occured to me how well sound maps in Thulins category of Sound-As-Map would work in smaller more specific community settings. Serving as a tool of community understanding, maybe even urban design. Allowing communities to understand collective and individual emotions about their own space in a new way. Meaningful sonic ques require a common sound vernacular; people that have a relatively unifying association with sounds could have an opportunity to explore what about infrastructure make them as peace, anxious, remind them of home, foreign etc.
    Thulin goes on to discuss three aspects of sound mapping reproduction, representation and performance through his own categories of sound mapping. I found the idea of Freesound to be particularly exciting especially as a platform meant to share sound for reuse. As Thulin notes, the prevalence of high tech recording studios often erases the locality of the music we hear, he refers to this as “sonic isolation”. The category of “field recording” on Freesound feels as if its a reaction to this trend. Thulin question whether we are making sound studios “non-places” which I found to be a brilliant question. He writes: “The risk is twofold: that some places such as studios are taken to be non-places, and that the complex dynamics of myriad forms of relationality between sounds and places – such as the idea of a sound inspired by a place or created for a place – are masked in favour of what appears to be a self-evident connection: a recording made in a particular place”.
    Question of authenticity hold a daunting power in the world of map making. Thulin is rethinking the map in a method that tackles question about authenticity, the power representation and reproduction head on. His enthusiasm for the use of low fidelity recordings surprised me and highlighted the ability for sound mapping to be intensely collaborative and accessible.

    • What a beautiful — and uplifting — post, Isabella. I’m so glad Thulin’s piece proved so generative and encouraging. I hope this text has inspired some new ideas for your own atlas. I also appreciate that you’re thinking of new applications for sound mapping — particularly in community-based design processes.

  • I appreciated the Mei-Po Kwan piece as a kind of manifesto for feminist GT practices that can I return to in my own mapmaking practice. Some of the concepts that really resonated with me were the importance of revealing the subjectivity of the researcher and contesting dominant practices in GT that are rooted in masculinist, rational epistemologies and facilitated by military surveillance technologies. Kwan critiques mapmaking practices where the “god-trick of seeing everything from nowhere” enables a disembodied “master subject” to achieve “a detached view into a separate, completely knowable world”. As someone who is being trained in GIS software and learning about the vast availability of downloadable geographic data about the world, I am familiar with how easy it is to fall into the “god’s eye view” and map places in a technocratic, emotionless way.

    After reading a few pages of her article, I was really looking forward to seeing examples of her own work and how she applied these values in her mapmaking practice. However, I admit I was a bit disappointed as a reader receiving and interpreting her maps – I found the digital images she created by manipulating geographic data so abstract that I was unsure about how these can be used to “resist” oppressive GT technologies. While perhaps counterhegemonic in their production process, the result of these maps is not quite what I would call a radical act of resistance or protest. She admits her work is personal and must be connected to collective resistance to enact change, but I am concerned that if every mapmaker pursues a hyper-experimental individual mapmaking practice, then it would be difficult to turn these maps into a operational tool to dismantle oppressive structures.

    • Thanks, Manon. You, like a few of your classmates, have a conflicted relationship to the Kwan article: while we might appreciate the politics of her practice and the practical “principles” she proposes, her actual *application* of those principles leaves much to be desired. How might we employ *different* cartographic strategies to realize Kwan’s subversive feminist ideals? How might we allow for individual experimentation and expression while also avoiding solipsism?

  • Over the last couple of weeks, I spent a substantial amount of time playing with a variety of 360 surround sound audio narratives on various listening devices. I was fascinated by the sense of place and space that these ‘audio scenes’ evoked, almost to a cartesian effect. I could guess quite intuitively as in physical space, the distance that would have been between my ears and the specific sound sources positioned around me in the soundscape. Sound, is perhaps, the most powerful tool for creating place and immersion, a sense of truth through experience.

    Yet, on reading Samuel Thulin’s Sound Maps Matter: Expanding Cartophony, it is this overarching debate on Truth and how it corresponds to the cartographic medium it is conveyed in that interests me the most. The idea of ‘sound-as-map’ presupposes “visual representation as secondary”. However, sound maps seem to be afforded more subjectivity than their visual counterparts. It is interesting how we tend to associate authority and thereby Truth, to visual maps. “(Maps) are always remade every time they are engaged with” seems to be truer for sound maps than others.

    Even though Thulin hints at a higher, more romantic end to the practice of sound maps – an ever present movement towards ‘objective, neutral truth’ the fact that the most utilized affordance of online sound maps is overlaying of audio recordings onto a (visual) map is contradictory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *