Reflection on The Agency of Mapping by James Corner

by shydes

I have always loved maps. I gather maps wherever I go. Pile them up at home, thinking that they will be a great project one day. What is a map? Or what is NOT a map? Carroll´s Mein Herr said after he had realized that the map they had was useless: “So, now we use the country itself as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well”.

Mapping, definitions: James Corner:  a way of re-shaping worlds where people live. Reformulate what already exists and actualize the potential. Searching, finding, unfolding. Description of reality that is culturally situated. Deleuze and Guattari: Experimentation in contact with the real. But what is the real? Whose reality will be on the map? The one who are doing the activity, will be the one telling us what he/she wants us to see. The inverted map by Torres- Garcia shows who have been in charge of constructing the maps and the world.

What can a map do? Winnicott suggests that we should include transitional objects possessed by imagination. What a possibility to have transitional parks where citizens can imagine a perfect spot. My view on this, is that we often plan every inch of our space in the city just because we can. We can afford it and we want everything to be planned. No space for imaginary places.

Reflections: The extreme power of the Municipalities planning offices. Do the planners understand that? Are the people working there ticking boxes or are they imagining better futures? Tools from modernism. Tools from the past to form our future is not an ideal combination. I would love to see kids and all citizens making maps of our milieu where transitional objects take place. Where mapping and planning are a joint activity to “unfold and support hidden conditions, desires and possibilities nested within our milieu”. It should not be one map of the city. There should be several layers showing different perspectives. Gender, age, culture etc. One map to use at dark nights on my way home, another one for a sunny Sunday stroll.

I have lived in the countryside the most time in my life. I loved walking in the forest with trees that are several hundred years old. No street names, no shops. You turn by a big oak, big rock or where there is a funny grown pine. That would be a great map. How would it be made trustworthy? The big oak may be looking small to someone visiting, living close to Redwood national Park.

Thank you, Suha, for sharing the article. I will try to use it in my research how to share in the city. How could a map for sharing look like?