Community Mapping Workshop, Sunday, December 16

From Ella [via Woodbine on Facebook]

Please join us for a workshop and presentation of Community Mapping projects in our neighborhoods and city. Our aim is to provide a welcoming and collaborative environment for neighbors to share the community-related maps they are working on (or considering to work on), and help each other develop ideas and mapping and visualization techniques.

The first half of the workshop will be for people to share the mapping projects they are working on. Please message us to add your names and projects if you wish to present. The sharing will be very informal, with the aim of helping each other with mapping. The second half will be a space for talking to and working with each other and sharing skills. You are invited to bring a laptop, and feel free to invite others who may be interested with community mapping.

Woodbine’s Community Mapping Project hopes to promote radical cartographic practices to make visible the relations of power that govern our lives. In revealing power through the process of community mapping, we dissect and resist the social and spatial infrastructures of dominant power, and collectively carve alternative and radical geographies. We are interested in producing thick and deep maps of ICE/police patterns and activities, crime data, housing, rent controlled apartments, gentrification, land use, zoning (residential, commercial, manufacture), historical sites, vacant lots and abandoned spaces, population distributions (ethnicity, class, age, jobs, gender), queer spaces, accessibility, homelessness, non-human ecosystems, among other topics.

Nerve Macaspac is an Assistant Professor of Geography at CUNY College of Staten Island, where he teaches Urban Geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He recently completed his PhD in Geography at UCLA. Before moving back to NYC, he was a member of the Board of Directors, as well as a coop member, of the Echo Park Film Center, a community cinema in Los Angeles.

TENTATIVE CALENDAR for the Woodbine Research Group:
–Wednesday December 19th: Decolonize This Place Presents…
–Sunday December 30th: Silvia Federici on Re-enchanting the World

Week 15: an interesting map exhibit you probably won’t see

Until late January, the Portland Art Museum has an exhibit of Korean map art called The Shape of the Land: Topographical Painting and Maps in Late Joseon Korea. The pieces, estimated to be from the nineteenth century, included showpieces like an eight part screen map of Pyeongyang showing the best places to view the moon and the unicorn lair. There were also utilitarian maps, such as one whose color ‘indicates the use of persimmon tannin to make the paper waterproof and more durable.’

In the fifteen pieces, there were elements of bureaucracy, data visualization, myth, politics and national pride to be found in the maps, with help from the descriptions. The exhibit brochure gives some additional background and provides better pictures than I.

The curator notes where the names on the map were not what was in use at the time, because of not taking a neighboring government seriously. On another maps, the note points out that ‘[c]ompared to Chinese maps produced in China, the Korean peninsula is shown larger here.’

Maps showed the wear of being folded and unfolded. The Map of Mountains of Gyeongsang Province also has circles indicating the relative population of the towns. Another has the labels colored by administrative type and province.

There was a map of a graveyard (above) and two of the eight panels from an eight panel screen (below), this of the world and of China. The place names, with a few exceptions for places in our world like Japan, Vietnam and China, were ‘imaginary locations derived from Shanhaijing (Classic of Mountains and Seas), an account of geography and myth’ from 4th century China.

These maps, like the those made in the Netherlands for merchants and in Mount View for Google are a combination of what you really need to know when going from one town to another village, what you wish were true about the world, and what is important to someone about a place.

These were works of art as well as craft.

The maps were full of the color, text, and known geographic features like roads, rivers and mountains.

I would like more accounts of geography and myth.

Note: all quotes are from the museum notes.

An additional map art from the museum, in a different exhibit, was Diane Jacob’s 2008 Global Inversion, where a small glass sphere hangs in front of a textile map of the world, south facing up. Because of optics, the globe appears ‘normally’ in the sphere.

Click any image to see a larger version.

Holes in Maps Exhibition @ 601 Artspace, from 12/1

Holes in Maps

Curated by Juliana Steiner
Dec 1, 2018 – Feb 24, 2019
601 Artspace, 88 Eldridge
Opening reception: Friday, Nov 30, 6-8pm
Gallery Website

Alia Farid, Matej Knezevic, Adriana Martinez, Reyneir Leyva Novo, Juan Obando, Regina Parra, Sanne Vaassen

Curator’s statement:

The reality of paper tears.
Land and water where they are
Are only where they were
When words read “here” and “here”
Before ships happened there.

Now on naked names feet stand,
No geographies in the hand,
And paper reads anciently,
And ships at sea
Turn round and round
All is known, all is found.
Death meets itself everywhere.
Holes in maps look through to nowhere.

-Laura Riding, The Map of Places, 1928

This exhibition explores themes of globalization, mobility and borders by examining ways in which personal narrative, social critique, trade, nationalism, identity and citizenship intersect. Like Riding’s poem, the artworks in this show challenge maps’ certainty and stability, exploring the immense gulf between lines on paper and lived experience – between symbols and their referents. Maps may reveal political and geographical realities, but what do they conceal?

Holes in Maps was born out of a desire to explore the strained relationship between the simple outlines of a map and the complex, emotional, contested human experiences of those boundaries. When one looks at the issues at hand through the lens of postmodern theorists, an analogous dissonance emerges between the world of intellectual discourse and the abrupt limitations of real life. For instance, social theorists Deleuze and Guattari advocate the rhizome as a model of being in which self and identity are not linked to one place or culture alone. Their rhizome endorses rootedness but forswears immobility–what a beautiful idea, and how unevenly attainable.

Maps are created and enforced through power, and disproportionately affect those who have none. One might argue that the opposite of rhizomic thought is the current global trend toward a nationalism that harshly defines and enforces social and national identities and curtails freedom of movement. (We may wish for the freedom to embrace the rhizome, but can we get a visa?) A series of barriers – physical, socioeconomic, and bureaucratic – separates those who are able to embrace “rhizomatic lives” from those who are not. For some, crossing borders has never been easier. For others, attempts to traverse them are repeatedly frustrated by newly erected barriers, while the necessity to transgress them can mean the difference between life and death. Perhaps thoughts cannot yet be confined, but physical access can and is. Through physical interventions and transformative recreations, the artists in Holes in Maps focus our gaze on the negotiation between personal agency and constructed barriers, and remind us to consider their cost.

Image: Reynier Leyva Novo, still from Eternamente te esperare (I’ll Forever Wait for You). 2015. Video, 10:06 min. Courtesy of the artist.

Trevor Paglen @ Swiss Institute, November 1 @ 6:15pm

Swiss Institute Website

How does technology learn to see the world? The interdisciplinary practice of Trevor Paglen brings us ever-closer to this question’s elusive answer. Merging practices of photography and sculpture within broader fields of science, engineering and investigative journalism, Paglen generates illuminating observations into how artificial intelligence develops the capability of sight, and how human biases can shape this technology. In 2017, Paglen debuted a new body of work that investigates the intersection of artificial intelligence and sight, “invisible images.” Paglen delineates invisible images into three categories: training libraries, machine-readable landscapes, and images made by computers for themselves. In his talk at Swiss Institute, Paglen will elaborate on these technologies, and how he has used artificial intelligence within his own practice. The resulting works are uncanny, alien and sublime, giving form to the precarious potentials of these superhuman algorithms.

Please RSVP to Please note: events at Swiss Institute are limited capacity, and entry is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Trevor Paglen is an artist whose work spans image-making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering, and numerous other disciplines. His work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Whitney Museum of American Art; Berkeley Art Museum; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Nevada Museum of Art. He has launched an artwork into distant orbit around Earth in collaboration with Creative Time and MIT, contributed research and cinematography to the Academy Award-winning film Citizenfour, and created a radioactive public sculpture for the exclusion zone in Fukushima, Japan. He is the author of five books and numerous articles on subjects including experimental geography, state secrecy, military symbology, photography, and visuality. Paglen’s work has been profiled in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Economist and Artforum. He is a 2017 recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Award. Paglen holds a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley, an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Geography from U.C. Berkeley.

Swiss Institute would like to thank UBS for their support of this event.

Image: Trevor Paglen, Rainbow (Corpus: Omens and Portents) Adversarially Evolved Hallucination, 2017. Copyright Trevor Paglen, Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

Navigating New York Exhibition @ NY Transit Museum, 10/11 –

NY Transit Museum Website

New York’s transportation history happened in phases, from early ships, trains and passenger ferries to more modern subways, trains, buses and cars. Transportation maps highlight the story of New York’s growth through the increasingly connected transportation system. Indeed, mass transit helped make the greater New York region what it is today. Navigating New York draws on the New York Transit Museum’s collection, artistic renderings, historic maps, guidebooks and digital technology that refresh our view of the city and show how transportation has catalyzed its development.

State Secrets + Satellites @ Eyebeam, October 25

EYEBEAM ASSEMBLY | INTERNAL USE ONLY, Hosted by Dhruv Mehrotra & Brendan C. Byrne


Website + RSVP

The longest amount of time any area in the continental United States has gone without an update in Google Earth was between 2008 to 2016. The gap lied in a dry lake bed in Southwestern Nevada located in the Tonopah Test Range, a subsection of the Nellis Test and Training Range, which is jointly owned by the Department of Energy and Air Force.

When Eyebeam Resident Dhruv Mehrotra and writer Brendan C. Byrne discovered this gap and realized they could purchase the rights to the satellite image themselves, they bought it in an attempt to push Google into completing its dataset. However, the purchase came with a set of its own restrictions within layers of legalese, which frustrated this initial intent while prompting an exploration into the most notable phrase that kept appearing: FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY.

What possibilities exist between the fine print, and can creative approaches help to locate grey areas, or loopholes to work within? Can abstraction or poetry obfuscate an original to the point of no longer being confined by a legal document? Where is that line and in how many ways can we collectively push upon the boundaries defined by “internal use?” What are the implications of state secrets and corporate censorship on artistic interpretation?

In an effort to interrogate these questions, Mehrotra and Byrne have commissioned a series of abstracted paintings of the satellite image by artist Sebastian Gladstone, and original poetry by Marvin Mayfield. During INTERNAL USE ONLY, these new works will be revealed and performed to an intimate audience of “internal users,” followed by conversations joined by Washington DC Bureau Chief of Yahoo News, Sharon Weinberger, and copyright lawyer Mark Bradford.

Instructions to become an “internal user” to follow.

Dhruv Mehrotra is an engineer whose work explores networks, conspiracy, politics and power. He is currently a resident at Eyebeam and a researcher at NYU.

Brendan C. Byrne’s criticism has appeared in Rhizome, The Intercept, and The Baffler. His fiction has appeared in Terraform, Big Echo, Flapperhouse, and Dark Mountain.

CFP: Media Fields Journal: “At the Edge” – due 11/9

Media Fields Journal is excited to announce the call for papers for Issue #14: At the Edge. Please email submissions to by the newly extended deadline, November 9, 2018. For more information and submission guidelines, visit Media Fields.

While researching the Hells Angels in the 1960s, Hunter S. Thompson wrote, “The edge…there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” Conceiving of the edge as both a site of orientation and a sharp drop-off, Thompson gestures towards its dual denotations: as “the line where an object begins or ends” and “the cutting side of a blade.” Thus, the edge can act both as a form of speculative orientation that provides boundaries or points of entry, and as a threshold that offers the possibility of “going over.”

As contemporary media scholarship continues to think through the proliferation of internet and screen cultures, their edges remain crucial to a comprehensive understanding. Scholars such as Adrian Mackenzie, Lisa Parks, and Mel Hogan have explored media technologies at or beyond their edges, asking how edge environments or experiences might alter their ‘typical’ use. Edward S. Casey writes that edges supply “a species of boundaries, that is, porous edges that take in as well as give out—in contrast to borders, which act to delimit institutions and concrete practices in the life-world.” Casey’s provocation suggests that studying media at the fringes or peripheries of society necessitates a discussion of the edges that construct their marginality. Additionally, edges establish relationalities between entities through their capacity to connect the nodes of distributed networks and complex systems. In this way, exploring media technologies and practices ‘at the edge’ can help locate imagined horizons and connections that inform the boundaries of identity, community, and globality.

Explicit academic engagement with the edge has thus far been situated in sociology, wherein ‘edgework’ came to be known as the study of risk-taking within recreational contexts. Stephen Lyng describes in the introduction to Edgework how leisure practices centered around risk are paradoxically treated as a form of individuality and resistance to a neoliberal society that itself demands economic and social precarity more and more often. Despite this paradox (or perhaps because of it), both individual and systemic risk—living on the edge—can be viewed as a means of exploring broad cultural spaces and their boundaries, such as those between safety and precarity, inclusion and exclusion, and life and death.

The edge as a heuristic thus brings together scholarly work on mediatized practices and spaces by examining exactly how their boundaries actively (re)imagine and (de)construct the dimensions of their existence. In consideration of the utility of the edge to rethink conceptualizations of spaces and boundaries, this issue of Media Fields Journal explores what happens ‘at the edge.’ We invite consideration of sites, works, practices, and systems via the constitution of the edge and its role as a permeable, although perhaps invisible, entity. We welcome work that attempts to locate
edges, and/or engages with the (potentially traumatic) experience of having ‘gone over.’ We further welcome attention to the sociological methodology of ‘edgework’ and how it might productively extend to media studies, perhaps involving industry norms of precarity and the never-ending quest for production on ‘the cutting edge.’

Dimensions of media ‘at the edge’ might include (but are not limited to):

  • Cinematic/Televisual Concerns: Elimination of the visual/sonic edge via wider screens, surround sound, 3-D enhancement, etc.; consumption of the image in edge spaces; representations of ‘going over the edge.’
  • Computational Concerns: Edges and nodes; edges as active and mediating sites; the edges of interfaces or platforms such as the Samsung Galaxy Edge or Microsoft Edge; imagined digital spaces and boundaries.
  • Environmental Concerns: Edges of communities, societies, and/or shared identities; mediating territorial edges; ecological impacts of edgeless or wireless media; media in edge environments such as data centers, server farms, media waste, etc.; edges of technological reach and possibility.
  • Experiential Concerns: Immersive media: virtual reality, augmented reality, and the quest for ‘edgelessness;’ risk-taking individuals and practices as a cultural tradition or rebellion; technologies that mediate risk experiences; sexual practices of ‘edging.’
  • Industrial Concerns: Precarity of media labor and innovation
    practices; economic motivations to produce on ‘the cutting edge;’ speculative horizons of media.

For any inquiries, please contact issue co-editors Jeremy Moore ( and Nicole Strobel (

Writing Opportunity: Submit Your Work to Territory!

Territory is a literary project about territories and the maps that will always fail to capture them. It’s about the naive dream of objectivity, and how we use the act of representation to both hide and broadcast our subjectivities.

The map has a specific allure. It reduces the complexity of the world to a manageable space, and suggests distant lands are not so distant. In this miniaturized space, it’s easy to envision an entire world. Perhaps too easy—maps often destroy through their creation. They are a barbaric art, or an art used for politics and propaganda.

This is why maps are instruments of both progress and regress. They inspire and enable discovery, but also conquest and colonization. They tell some histories while denying others. They both reveal and conceal the spaces they circumscribe. The map is not the territory, surely, but then why is our world built on so many getting this so wrong?

Territory wants to understand these paradoxes by understanding the maps that inspire them. We invite writers, musicians, and other artists to respond to maps and the fallacies they engender, in turn creating secondary maps. We then present these two maps side-by-side as a means of getting at, but still failing to capture, the underlying territory. We are building an atlas knowing it will be a reduction, an anachronism, a distortion. But we build it anyway.

They’ve issued calls for submisions for three upcoming issues:

10 – Extremes
11 – Twins
12 – Alaska