Tuesday, January 20, 2009


“The experiences of space cannot be separated from the events that happen in it. It is remade continuously every time it is encountered by different people, every time it is represented through another medium, every time its surroundings change, every time new affiliations are forged” James Corner, The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention in Mappings, edited by Denis Cosgrove,

“The ordinary practitioners of the city live ‘down below’, below the thresholds at which visibility begins. ... whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban ‘text’ they write without being able to read it. These practitioners make use of spaces that cannot be seen; their knowledge of them is as blind as that of lovers in each other’s arms. The paths that correspond in this intertwining, unrecognized poems in which each body is an element signed by many others, elude legibility. It is as though the practices organizing a bustling city were characterized by their blindness. The networks of these moving, intersecting writings compose a manifold story that has neither author nor spectator, shaped out of fragments of trajectories and alterations of spaces: in relation to representations, it remains daily and indefinitely other.” Michel de Certeau, Walking in the City in The Practice of Everyday Life.

Working from a series of texts and discussions on temporality, public space and representation, this seminar/lab will use audio, video and GPS (Global Positioning Systems) to explore the potential of a new kind of drawing. a mapping which is temporal and ever-changing and which looks at the body of the city in its intimate relationship to the mapping of the human body. What do calories burned, heart rate, and body mass mean as related to length and speed of travel, weather, and topography? And what does latitude and longitude of user, distance to destination, and time, and latitude mean as related to track, bearing and heart rate? Can we analyze this data of the human body and city body as interrelated an intimately connected? Can we analyze this data the way that a radiologist analyzes a CT-scan? In addition the merging of drawing (GPS) and moving image (audio/video) will be explored as a hybrid tool capable of capturing place in all of its qualities. With GPS we get the absolute, certain information of the trajectory such as location, altitude, weather, heart rate, cadence, speed, duration... while audio/video captures the perceptive, bodily characteristics of the space such as imagery, ambiance, texture, light, activity, conversations, sounds, expressions, etc….. The city will be mapped as a temporal system with documents that are both realistic and abstract, picturesque and analytical, immersed and removed. With these mapping technologies as wearable and as extensions of the human body into the city, the students will “draw” their cities from “below” producing a collective subjective map of the interactions, movements, pauses and events that make up the daily life of their cities.

The seminar will use historical references in architecture, film, cartography, photography, drawing, literature, urbanism, biology, sociology, science, physiology… as well as contemporary visualization examples in graphic design, art, architecture, medicine, aviation... The students will be presented with examples weekly as well as given reading assignments and short weekly exercises to exploit the possibilities. Part of class time will be used for lively discussions on the topics explored and presented. Students will also define, present, and write a seminar topic of their choice to fit under the course thesis and which will provide the basis for an independent student project. Recording equipment may be borrowed from the professor, checked out from the university or provided by the students.

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