10 February 2015

Week 03 - The Agency of Mapping

Kollath Questions:

What has prevented mapping from replacing tracing as the main form of cartographic expression?

James Corner describes mapping as a cunning technique used to expose new possibilities and to reveal that which had previously remained unseen. How might we begin to perfect such a technique? How can we speed up advancement of this technique? How might we reorganize information that is already available to us in order to shed light on the unknown?

Corner states that maps have agency because of their double-sidedness. What are the two sides and what is their relationship?

Corner writes: “Such fantastic play across the world’s various surfaces is characterized not only by a fertile heterogeneity but also by conceptual elements coming loose from their traditional moorings.  The boundaries between different foundational realities have become so blurred, in fact, that it is practically impossible in a cyber-world to distinguish between what is information and what is concrete, what is fact and what is fiction, what is space and what is time.” (226) Is there a contradiction between this “blurring” and “fertile heterogeneity”? Why or why not?

Corner states, “The application of judgment, subjectively constituted, is precisely what makes a map more a project than a ‘mere’ empirical description.” (223) Does this application of a subjective judgment and apparent lack of empirical value make maps less useful or more difficult to read? 

Duncan Questions:

James Corner describes several different types of representing world maps such as Bucky Fuller’s Dymaxion World Maps and Torres-Garcia’s Inverted Map of South America.  Architects and Cartographers often simply orient their maps or plans with North as up.  Do you think there could be something gained by orienting drawings in different directions to better understand relationships of site and/or programs?  Has this been something you’ve tried in your design work?

Do certain sites lend themselves to different mapping operations than others?  Is it easier or more useful to map a specific site using the drift method versus the layering or game board methods?  Would it be a useful or possible to map a site using each operation Corner lists?

Corner writes about the four instances or operations of mapping:  drift, layering, game-board, and rhizome, but in his conclusion eludes that there may be more than just these four operations.  Can you think of a fifth type of mapping that could be useful not yet explored by Corner?

The Highline in New York City, a project led by James Corner Field Operations, is a good example of the mapping of the city and surrounding programs directly playing a role into the design and experience of the project.  After the success of the project do you think mapping is becoming more popular for architects to use as a design strategy? 

On page 239 Corner gives two examples of the layering operation of mapping.  First, he mentions Koolhaas and Tschumi’s strategy of using layers to indicate future programs on the site.  In contrast Eisenmann uses layers to create new formal arrangements.  Koolhaas is well known for his designs being driven by programmatic relationships.  Eisenman is more concerned with form in his work.  How can other architects use this mapping technique to strengthen their design philosophies?  

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