07 March 2012

Live Blog: Britt Eversole: Militant Mapping

Britt Eversole
Militant Mapping

Examples from the Italian neo-avant garde
The context is a time of turmoil in Italy, with a major role being played by the architecture students
The line between art and activism can be hard to identify
Can maps reveal to us a code that is related to that movement
Maps do things to us and we can do things to them

“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism

"Prince Modupe, I Was A Savage, how he had learned to read maps at school, and how he had taken back home to his village a map of a river his father had traveled for years as a trader:
"...my father thought the whole idea was absurd. He refused to identify the stream he had crossed at Bomako, where it is no deeper, he said, than a man is high, with the great widespread waters of the vast Niger delta. Distances as measured in miles had no meaning for him.... Maps are liars, he told me briefly. From his tone of voice I could tell that I had offended him in some way not known to me at the time. The things that hurt one do not show on a map. ... With my big map-talk, I had effaced the magnitude of his cargo-laden, heat-weighted tracks."
- Marshall McLuhan

1. Maps are documents
But of course they are more than that
Another example was a Taliesin Square Paper by FLW that show how he would like to refederate the US into 3 sections: Usonia, Usonia South, and New England.

2. Maps are Representations of Space

3. Maps are (Seemingly) Authorless Documents
Unlike other documents, we read them as if they were authoritative
Massimo Vignelli's NYC Subway map was an example

Sanborn maps have similar characteristics

Back to Italy, we see historic maps of Italy being treated as important because they give the city form.
Mussolini's linkage communication and movement was key to empowering his fascist regime, liking these with a return to Italian greatness.

Change came to the landscapes of Italy and the conflict was captured in the film, Le mani sulla città.

The use of models and maps throughout the movie, forsaged their growing presence in post-war Italy as it underwent dramatic change.  Walking through the map (literally a giant wall map with a door in it) marks the symbolic crash for the aggressive developer played by Rod Steiger.

Alighiero Boetti
Each year a different map was woven but with different projections and boundaries that he specified.

The talk turned to poets whose work led them to cartography as an alternative media for their art. They used the way that maps have codes and the ways that we are programmed to respond to them. 

These artistic modifications of old maps were militant mapping that addressed the turmoil of redial Italy.

This was really an idea rich presentation which is currently an early draft of a larger project.  I can't claim to have captured the big ideas, so I settled for some smattering of details.

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