Thursday, February 19, 2009


A screen shot of Google Maps and its street view service where you can click on a blue tab and see photos of the geography in question.

I just finished watching the HBO series Rome via Netflix. There is one scene where Caesar Octavian stands before a map of Roman territories and literally carves it apart with a sword, dividing the land with his second in command, Marc Antony (which ultimately leads to Antony's fall from grace thanks to the lovely Cleopatra).

I've been thinking a lot lately about the ways in which our personal worldview can filter our spatial experience to create individualized interpretations of cities. We have the power to formulate our own maps and visions of space like never before. We can layer stories, visions, concepts, and more onto our geographies. Mr. Beller's Neighborhood maps New York via oral histories; Baltimore Green Maps looks at the city through the lens of sustainable resources.

Screen shot of the Baltimore Green Map.

You can even see this manifest in the way official marketers of cities portray themselves to the world. The Baltimore Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau went live yesterday with a site called Visit My Baltimore. It encourages the individual user to upload and link images, videos, maps, etc., of "their" Baltimore. In fact, the very idea of "Baltimore" is open to individual definition. There is no Caesar carving out the land; rather, there are hundreds of individuals defining and mapping their own personal territory.

I just got word from Brian Rosa about a new exhibition that he is curating with L.A.-based Adam Katz. Called Photocartographies: Tattered Fragments of the Map, the show will reveal "mapping itself as a generative process of knowledge creation, a liberatory method for re-imagining and re-imaging our world, its built and natural environments, and the relationship between space and place," according to the official Web site. "Photography and cartography are entwined in similar processes of subject orientation that structure our experience of social, environmental and virtual landscapes. A map is not a representation so much as a system of propositions," the curators write.

The One Park map: a vision for coalescing public and private green space in Baltimore is illustrated through a map created by architect Steve Ziger.

Brian and Adam are looking for submissions for the exhibition. The deadline is March 31, 2009. The exhibition opens in Los Angeles on May 16. You can learn more about it by clicking here.