Simryn Gill_Four Atlases of the World and One of Stars_2009

Critical Cartographies

Teresa Stoppani , 20th March 2014, Soft Room, 6 PM

Architectural Association

[M]apmaking conventions are based not only on a sensible view of the world but on themselves, on their own historical sense of what counts as a legitimate view of the world. As the geographer J. Wreford Watson writes, “The geography of the land is in the last resort the geography of the mind.”

Catherine Ingraham, Architecture and the Burdens of Linearity, 1998.

Simryn Gill_Four Atlases of the World and One of Stars_2009

The use of the grid in mapmaking offers a rational instrument that is based on conventions in order to fix and to communicate information. At the same time the cartographic grid produces an intentional opacity that can reveal the “project” of mapmaking, otherwise concealed in its apparently objective and impartial presentation. From the impossible bird’s eye views of cities presented as city portraits, to the measured space of the map, the conventions and the “lies” of cartographic representation reveal that the map is in fact a project, that is, the production of a never-neutral critical space. Always partial, mapmaking establishes a relation of difference and of excess with the territory that it re-presents, thus becoming a generative system that is able to produce and incorporate those interpretations, intentionality and transformations that characterize the process of the project. Examples, stories and images drawn from architecture and the visual arts accompany this exploration of critical cartographies.