Cartographic Archive

David Garcia Studio, Manual of Architectural Possibilities
David Garcia Studio, Manual of Architectural Possibilities

Tomorrow I’ll be guest-presenting in Joseph Heathcott’s Archive/City class, which shares many interests with my own Archives/Libraries class and my various map-related and urban-history-related classes. Joseph asked me to talk about archives and cartography, so I figured we’d address the relationship between those terms in seven variations:

  • archives of maps;
  • the “archive” of cartographic epistemology, or how the Foucauldian “archive” that maps embody has evolved over the centuries;
  • carto-archival art;
  • how history is “mapped” or “archived” on maps themselves (or, maps as material objects that trace the passing of time);
  • the use of maps to archive — or as a substrate for archival arrangement;
  • curating and mapping archived data not to trace history, but for purposes of prediction; and
  • using maps as forensic tools.

Here’s what we might discuss:

Map Archives

History of Cartographic Epistemology (Wood)

  • Statism (“seeing like a state”) –> positivism (maps as indexical representations of the world) –> constructivism
  • Presumed “primitivism” of indigenous cartography (Wood) and materiality of the “map archive” in a non-print-based culture
  • Critical Cartography: questioning the “indexical” quality of maps, the objectivity of GPS, and the reification of data
  • Maps as living documents
  • Deep mapping (which we’re discussing in my Maps class this week) as a form of archival mapping:

Carto-Archival Art

  • Joseph’s students were asked to read Benjamin Buchloh on Gerhard Richter’s Atlas, which Richter began in the 1960s
    • Atlas = book that organizes geographical or astronomical knowledge
    • Montage as construction of meaning, rather than mere arrangement of forms
    • Perceptual shock / trauma / ruptures between objects and their representations creates “mnemonic desire”
      • mid 1920s: shift toward archival and mnemonic functions of photo collection
    • Buchloh’s article’s myriad allusions: Benjamin, Kracauer, Warburg, Rodchenko, Hannah Hoch, Barthes…
    • Richter mixes amateur found photos, journalistic and advertising photos: allows for juxtaposition of various themes — say, “family” — as they’re privately and publicly/commercially
    • Reina Sofia Atlas exhibition
    • Deep Storage exhibition
    • Lots of map art
    • Much interest in the materiality of the map itself, which leads us into…

History “Mapped,” or “Archived,” on Maps Themselves

Using Maps to Archive – or As a Substrate for Archival Arrangement

Curating + Mapping Archived Data for Purposes of Prediction

Using Maps as a Forensic Tool

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