Abstracts

Ruth Burgon, University of Edinburgh, ‘Lost in this City and this Story’: Maps, Stories and the Fractured Subject on the Work of Sophie Calle and Janet Cardiff’

I see myself at the labyrinth’s gate, ready to get lost in this city and this story. In Suite Vénitienne (1980) Sophie Calle enters Venice in pursuit of Henri B. Her routes are mapped by his footsteps, and recorded subsequently in diary entries, photographs and three maps that appear in the publication of the piece. In Janet Cardiff’s The Missing Voice (Case Study B) (1999), headphones on, the participant follows the sound of the artist’s voice and the click of her footsteps. Cardiff’s recording becomes a surrogate map, tracing a physical route around Spitalfields, whilst also building up narratives, both personal and historical.

Calle’s maps come after the fact, records of the event rather than orientation on the ground. Cardiff uses maps only before the fact, to plan a walk that will then proceed only with audio guidance. In each case the authoritative linearity offered by a map whilst walking in the city is not desired.

Cast adrift without a map, one is lost, disorientated, and it is this disjuncture that both Calle and Cardiff explore in their disjointed narratives. In this paper I will argue that both artists evoke the fractured female subject through their use of footsteps as ersatz-map. In her reversal of the traditionally gendered roles of stalked and stalker, Calle never fully embodies the stalker, but becomes the victim of her own game, the doubled figure, both subject and object. Cardiff transfers this sense of doubling or fracturing to participants in The Missing Voice, who slip between occupying Cardiff’s footsteps/thoughts and following them. I will read this fracturing as a form of feminist multiplicity, in which the divided subject holds a subversive power.

Dan Frodsham, University of Exeter, ‘Locating ‘Place’ on the Maps of Mobile Social Networks: The Case of COMOB’

Using a case study from the field of locative media, this paper explores how mobile social networks that operate both within and across space produce competing versions of proximity that undermine conventional cartographic representation. Comob (2009-), a mobile application produced by artists Jen Southern and Chris Speed, seeks to renew a ‘sense of place’ as both geographically located and collectively negotiated through social networks. The application produces real-time mobile maps in which connections between ‘nodes’ are highlighted over distances between locations. In doing so, Comob aims to empower users on the ground to collectively negotiate and mark-out their own territory by writing and rewriting the map through their movements. But the attempt to reconcile a relational space with absolute space is fraught with difficulty. Comob suggests that, to paraphrase Bruno Latour (2005: 185), issues of scale and proximity may become the actors’ own achievement, yet the application’s base-map remains substantially intact and continues to order and scale spatial representation. To allow otherwise would undermine the GPS platform on which Comob relies for its operations and set adrift the shared ‘sense of place’ that it seeks to foster. This paradox can either be seen as a productive tension or as indicative of conditions in which the venerable vessel of Euclidean space, and the maps that grid it, are no longer able to contain our knowledge or sustain our representations.

Hugh Govan, University of Essex, ‘Specific Objects, Precarious Journeys: On Robert Smithson’s Non-Site: Line of Wreckage (1968) and Mapping in Post-Minimal Art’

Sometime in 1968, Robert Smithson took a car trip along a stretch of road in the harbour area of Bayonne, New Jersey. He made stops at various points to take photographs of the built up debris and clean-fill which bounded the shoreline from the bay, as well as collecting some of this raw material at the final stop on his trip. The photographs and debris were exhibited as his Non-Site: Line of Wreckage, along with a cut-out section of map depicting a line ships sunken along the shoreline as a form of coast defence.

Mapping, in Smithson’s work, encompasses the full range of activity described in the Non-Site above, yet is not defined to his work alone. Line of Wreckage also contests the opposition between the object and its environment asserted in Donald Judd’s survey of contemporary art in the early-mid 60s, ‘Specific Objects’ (1965). Judd’s notion of the Specific Object served as a provisional term, typifying the uncertain relation a diverse group of artists at this time felt towards defining their work as sculpture. In this paper, I will argue that mapping is a response to the uneasy specificity of the object in 60s art. In turn, Smithson’s Non-Sites can be seen as retrieving, rather than eclipsing, Judd’s influence on site-specific art.

Firstly, I will consider how mapping presents an alternative form of documentary practice, following Judd’s assertion that linear narratives of history have ‘unravelled’. I will then revisit how Line of Wreckage returns to the under studied concept of ‘precarious balance’ Smithson identified in Judd’s work, in particular its ambiguous status as both an object and an environment. Lastly, the map in Smithson’s Non-Sites will be considered as an initiator of questions concerning influence and reception in post-Minimal art.

Berit Hummel, Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University of Berlin, ‘Mapping Dériville. Playtime, Alphaville and the Recapturing of Urban Space’

In this presentation I will show how the motif of the urban walker in cinema is used as a means of remapping urban space. I refer to two films produced in the 1960s in Paris, Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) and Playtime (Jaques Tati, 1967), dealing with the topic of the estrangement in the city of high modernity. In my paper I aim to analyze the cinematographic means by which the viewer is guided through the urban structures and how they contribute to form a mental map of the cinematic space. Both films refer to the viewer with different strategies, as there is the predominant use of deep space in Playtime and of tracking shots in Alphaville.

Both main protagonists are transforming the all encompassing totality of the ‘hyperspace’ (Jameson 1991) they are moving through into a recognizable order, thus mapping the space through their movements Starting with the well known scene in Playtime, in which a guest in the Royal Garden restaurant, a linguistic association to the Parisian Palais Royal and the events of 1789, is being explained a route through Paris on a map and starts to trace the streets indicated in that plan in the lines of a dark marble pillar against which it is being held, I will show how maps and diagrams are used in both films to underline the fragmentary, labyrinth-like construction of the urban spaces.

I will parallel the filmic representation of space to the contemporary use of fragmented maps by the Situationist International, such as Guy Debord’s psychogeographic cartography Naked City (1957). I argue that the strategies of counter-mapping employed in Alphaville and Playtime are constructing an image of the city-as-playground, suggesting an appropriation of space as a territory for creating authentic experiences.

Gavin MacDonald, Manchester Metropolitan University, ‘Bodies Moving and Being Moved: Mapping Affect in Christian Nold’s Bio Mapping’

In A History of Spaces (2004), John Pickles observes that one of the less well-known representational norms of mapping is its focus on “natural and physical objects rather than developing universal conventions dealing with symbol, affect and movement.” New media artist Christian Nold’s work has dealt explicitly with two of these cartographic blindspots, grafting new and old technologies that both, in different ways, create bodily traces – the GPS trace of movement and the GSR (galvanic skin response) trace of arousal, often taken as an index of emotional response. Although Nold’s socially engaged practice can be placed within the ‘locative media’ genre it also taps into the technological imaginaries around biometric sensors and data – the “performative expectations” (de Waal, 2011) that are stimulated by, projected onto, and bound up with the development of new technologies.

This paper considers’s Nold’s Bio Mapping (2004-) projects in the context of his longstanding concern with social collectives and public space as a field of social relations. Looking at particular maps from Nold’s Bio Mapping project, it considers the implications of blending the traces of the body’s internal states with the traces produced by locomotive movement, and the relationship between the individuals thus traced and the collectives that Nold seeks to represent.

Concurrent with Nold’s practice there has been a wave of interest in affect and emotion (and the distinction between them) within the humanities. This paper brings Nold’s work into contact with the Deleuzian/Spinozan concept of affect employed in one strand of this writing, drawing in particular on the work of Brian Massumi. Rather than using theory to simply illustrate Nold’s practice, it follows the implications of Deleuze’s cartographic model for individuation, the logic of which ultimately problematises the very distinction between the two bodily phenomena traced by Nold’s device.

Regina Mamou, Artist and adjunct lecturer in the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Museum Education, ‘Mapping Collected Memory in Amman, Jordan’

The purpose of this research is to address navigational methods in a context where map production is limited and a formal address system, i.e. house numbers and street names, has been implemented only in recent years. This research was approached by way of a photography project on subjective cartography entitled “Mapping Collected Memory,” carried out from 2009 to 2010 while on a Fulbright Fellowship to Amman, Jordan. While maps provide a user or, in the case of this project, a viewer with a generalized presentation of the city, subjective cartography, with its use of mnemonic aids and visual cues, may grant navigators a localized and microcosmic view of the city.

This approach of observing the minutiae of a neighbourhood might be regarded as a fractured understanding of the city. However, I argue that this subjective experience might prove more useful and personalized than observing the broader, bird’s-eye view of a map. The project involved reaching out to residents of the city for walking tours. On these tours, I asked my guides to narrate their experience of navigating the city using visual cues. I then returned to these landmarks to create photographs with my large-format camera. It should be noted that the camera I used, which is an antiquated model from the advent of analogue photography, was an important part of this process. I slowly navigated back to these markers by memory, and spent between twenty and thirty minutes composing and constructing images, thereby memorializing these markers within the general navigational landscape of the city. The result is a presentation composed of written material and large-scale photographs, fragments of the city that when viewed as a series come together as a constellation of a subjective whole.

Felipe Palma, Goldsmiths, University of London, ‘The Translation Act or the Performative Maps of The Atacama Desert, South America’

The core problem of the social sciences is that of transforming the traces of certain observed phenomenon into the materiality of a specific artefact (Latour, 1988), usually the textual inscription of the book, translating the phenomenon into a complementary and new register. But this translation/transformation act begs the question: what kind of sign system is created, codified and mobilised to accomplish this act?

The contingency of sign systems – one possibility among others – has led the social sciences to explore a wider range of potential designed artefacts as the final result of a research process, such as written books, diagrams, maps, photography and film, web interfaces, art-installations, etc. This paper draws upon the problem of translations in an empirical ethnographic research, proposing that the sign system to translate (and construct) findings can be ‘borrowed’ from the phenomenon own strategies of figuration of totality (Jameson, 1990). Hence the phenomenon’s own coordinates can guide the sign system, materiality and construction of a final research artefact. In the context of the Atacama Desert, South America, the local populations stage a seven days long performative map where, through music, dance and outfits, the world is stereotyped and brought into the surface of the villages main square. These performative maps work as some kind of bestiary in which all the ‘beings’ (real or imaginary) are brought together into one time and space, articulating a map that references the world by calling ‘the possible’. Given this context, this abstract central questions are: how can an interpretative framework emerge from these local figurations of totality? Which of their aesthetical categories could guide the construction of an artefact that maps the social dynamics of the Atacama Desert?

Henry Skerritt, University of Pittsburgh, ‘Mapping Colonial Massacres onto the Ancestral Landscape’

In 2000, the Australian Aboriginal artist Paddy Bedford commenced a series of paintings commemorating the massacre of a group of his kinsfolk at Bedford Downs in remote north-western Australia. He had painted this site many times before: it is a place of deep significance to his Gija people, where during the creation time (or Ngarranggarni) the ancestral emu separated night from day. Bedford’s early depictions were cosmological cartographies in which the act of mapping asserted his ownership and custodial responsibility for this site.

For the Gija, the events of the Ngarranggarni are not restricted to the past, but remain a residue in the thickened present. The mapping of ancestral country serves to reenergise these narratives: a constitutive act of remembering designed to make the past present. But if the landscape bears this residue of ancestral presence, it also bears the weight of colonial history. Mapping the landscape is mnemonic of both ancestral and historical events: a palimpsest in which every site registers the successive strata of memory, recording both its ancestral origins and the imprints of colonial incursion.

In this sense, the emergence of massacre scenes in Bedford’s paintings might be seen as inevitable, and indeed, they first appear as minor addendums to the landscape. Gradually, however, they begin to dominate his paintings, which became less cartographic and more iconic distillations of dramatic events.

In examining this shift from ancestral cartography to post-colonial documentary, this paper interrogates the role of mapping in asserting Indigenous authority over self-representation and the processes of cross-cultural history making. Considering these massacre paintings as a form of “history mapping,” I argue that the mapping of colonial violence onto the ancestral landscape requires a negotiated form of communication forged in the confluence of cultural exchange. This mediated “in-between” space necessitates a complex process of revelation and concealment, in which authority over country and self-representation are held in a constant tension. By exploring Bedford’s strategies for opacity and relation, this paper positions his work within a social and art historical context attuned to the specifics of this cultural exchange, while suggesting new strategies for the development of an intercultural Gija art history.

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