Remediated Maps: Transmedial Approaches to Cartographic Imagination

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Workshop organized by Prof. Dr. Tanja Michalsky and Tommaso Morawski, Ph.D.
Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History (Rome), October 19–21, 2020

The reassertion of space as the gravitational centre of cultural enquiry and the consequent recognition of the constructed nature of spatial imaginaries, has contributed to the intensification of a real cartographic turn in the human and social sciences. The theoretical framework of this turn benefited from different impulses and scholarly traditions, in particular from the pioneering work of historians of cartography, such as Brian Harley and David Woodward. Starting from their History of Cartography project, in the last few decades the map-studies have experienced a deep epistemological and theoretical renovation. A change of paradigm which contributed to define, precisely around the space of representation of the map, a new playing field for scholars of different disciplines, challenging what it means to be interdisciplinary.

In addition, abandoning any positivistic ideal of transparency and truth, the cartographic image has started to be examined in its opacity, as a cultural text, as a document of our social and cultural history. The critical revaluation of the inherently rhetorical and socially constituted nature of maps, together with the recognition of their mingling with power and knowledge control, made it possible to interrogate the logic of maps’ production – known with the technical term of mapping – out of the restricted domain of geography, and applicable to a wide range of subjects of enquiry. The map emerges as a nomadic concept: as a complex semantic structure, a matrix of spatial imagination at the crossroad of scriptura and pictura, table and diagram, that fruitfully travels across different media and visual grammars, translated from one cultural form to another. Indeed, as art historians, literary scholars, visual and media theorists, philosophers and historians of cartography have claimed, maps are not only apparatuses of power and subject constitution, or simple metaphors for knowledge, but also cultural techniques that can be materially re-mediated into other media, such as books, films, and paintings. An attitude to hybridization with other media and other technologies which today shows all its importance in the light of the new image formats emerging from the use of digital and interactive technologies (as in the case of drones, Google Earth and Google Maps).

Following this line of enquiry, the workshop aims at extending the research horizons developed in the last years around the cartographic image, to deepen the methodologies of the so called cartographic turn and revise its categories of analysis in a transmedial perspective. Though different approaches and theoretical perspectives have risen in this field, many questions about the relation between maps and other codes of world- and space-writing – such as cinema, art, literature, philosophy, architecture and politics – are still open, deserving further reflections and discussion. Among these, some of the themes that will be considered are: 

  • the implications on the idiolect of the cartographer and the visual psychology of the spectator of hybridization processes between the map and other media;
  • the new operative modalities of cartographic imagination and new image formats emerging through the use of computer graphics and cinematic techniques of representation;
  • the complex relation between maps and the spaces of life;
  • the definition of a specific cartographic impulse and its relationship through other media with the milieu and the environments it produces.

We invite researchers to submit proposals for 30-minute papers in English, Italian or German, by sending an abstract of max. 350 words and a short CV (max. 2 pages) to morawski@biblhertz.it by March 10, 2020. The Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History will cover travel and accommodation costs for the speakers.

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