The End, The Map, The Beginning

I. The End

In my process blog post “Make a map, not a tracing!”, I lament the fact that it is my last semester and I need direction. I write about my desire to have a map that I can take with me as guidance and evidence that I had travelled far with detailed documentation of all the things I now know. Anxiety-ridden, already nostalgic and faced with the inevitable, I set a plan to create a narrative starting with the points below.

II. The Map

1) Rooftop Farms: The Brooklyn Grange, Gotham Greens, and Bright Farm’s new 100,000 square foot rooftop farm in Sunset Park establish New York City as a groundbreaking leader in urban agriculture. Funded through government grants and crowd-sourcing platforms such as Kickstarter, these rooftops farms are able to produce tens of thousands of food per year by reclaiming abandoned spaces and building community support.

2) Vacant Lots: 596 Acres is a web project that uses mapping and social media to connect the community to vacant lots in order to reclaim public land for the community.

Find the lot in your life. Contact the owner. Grow something. We can help.

3) Gutterspaces: “Tiny, irregular, inaccessible or otherwise unusable parcels of land, the remnants of surveying errors or other zoning anomalies”.

4) Gordon Matta-Clark: Fakes Estates, Food, and Day’s End are projects by architect, artist, and anarchist Gordon Matta-Clark that are a precedent for several of the themes I explore in my mapping project including reclaiming land, transforming space, and good food.

In Fake Estates, Matta-Clark navigates the zoning policies of Queens County to become a landowner after an auction where he makes off with 15 parcels of land (gutterspace).

Food was a restaurant run by artists who transformed space into performance space, setting off a countercultural movement that laid the foundation for new food politics at the corner of Prince of Wooster Streets in Soho.

III. The Beginning

More layers are needed. At the end of the semester, I began to find it difficult to articulate what was missing in the spaces in-between. Deleuze and Guattari’s “rhizome” helped with the vocabulary, but I think it is their theory of the “fold” that I need to explore to further understand the process of mapping and the spatiality of cartographic arguments within an urban environment.

In Earth Moves, Bernard Cache applies Deleuze’s “fold” to new architecture providing new ways to think about the relationship between, “interior and exterior, between past and present, and between architecture and the urban.” In the introduction to Earth Moves, Michael Speaks writes:

[Cache] develops a reevaluation of perspective by framing an image of the exterior topography of an apartment, rendering what was exterior part of the interior, and what was interior coexistent with the exterior…A contains B, which doesn’t prevent B from being able to contain A. The window frames the landscape as much as the landscape encompasses the frame.”

For Cache, even the furniture within the space is “…not only an interior replication of architecture-the closet within a box and the table is simply an elevated floor-but the primary territory of the body.” (xvii, xviii)

I am so grateful that I am concluding my Media Studies program with Shannon’s Urban Media Archaeology class. The nature of maps is that need to be constantly revised to remain accurate. I can create a new one or revise an old one depending on where I want to go. This semester I ran out of time and it’s comforting to know that I still have a lot of work to do.


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