The Association of American Geographers met several weeks ago in San Francisco. 3Cs was on the scene at several interesting papers and panels in addition to presenting DisOrientations.
Edward Kinman, from Longwood University in Virginia, presented on a great artwork of his that is directly relevant to this summers 3Cs project. The clay installation maps the institution’s geographic growth and appropriation of a historically black neighborhood. I suggest we go see this work this summer.
Paivi Kymainen of Finland gave an interesting paper about temporary places of urban visuality in which she uses temporally unstable chora to approach the work of the artists that refer to themselves variously as The Barsky Brothers and Akaysim. These artists engage in temporary street-art projects that write urban spaces in different ways. Notably, she quotes them as understanding a city “a place where furniture can be re-arranged.” The temporal aspects of this work parallel other projects such as those in Argentina that Brian Holmes talked about.
Jorn Seemann presented some fascinating ideas that anyone who speaks Portuguese ought to follow up on (He is at Universidade Regional do Cariri, Brazil). He spoke about humanistic cartographies in which he attempted to understand mapping in a broader fashion than “Woodward and Harvey.” He proposes human territorialities such as smellscapes and mental maps that must be understood in a human context.
One panel on contemporary art and geographical activism was particularly relevant to 3Cs.
Our good friend Kanarinka has a new project in which she is recording herself running the length of each of Boston’s new evacuation routes. She is generating several kinds of records, including sound.
Christian Nold is working on in a similar project of biometric mapping. He uses technology from polygraph lie-detector machines to record peoples” excitement as they walk through urban environments and interact with other people. As people walk, a GPS unit records their position, so the biometric measures and degrees of emotion are geo-located. The particular use of these technologies is interestingly subjective and Christian stresses that these measures are very rough at best. In different hands, a normalized version of this could be downright scary. Even these maps clearly show the stress of pedestrians crossing a major intersection.
Much of this work in San Francisco is associated with “Southern Exposure”
I also shared notes with some folks from Illinois’ Critical Spatial Practice group. Nick Brown of that group does good work about discourses of southern Illinois and native lands. His work utilizes a lot of photography with some great results. I’m quite curious to see what else he develops.
The most provocative art in this panel is the work of Trevor Paglen. He photographs and records spaces of the War on Terror and the policy of extraordinary rendition. This is a great mapping of neoconservative geopolitical space that we only rarely see manifested. His work is an interesting way of making spaces legible.
I just missed a presentation on the LA urban ranger experiment, but here is a link anyway. It seems directly relevant to questions of urban legibility and inscription.
One final presentation worth mentioning is that of Jen Giesking at CUNY. She presented a pseudo-ethnographic mental mapping project about students and Mount Holyoake College. She interviewed current and former students and had them draw maps of Mount Holyoake and the area. It is an interesting method into sharing meaning of places and spaces.