Livingmaps Review goes live
In the deserts of the West, still today, there are tattered ruins of the Map, inhabited by animals and beggars; and in all the land there is no other relic of the disciplines of geography.
Jorge Luis Borges The Exactitude of Science
Holes in maps look through to nowhere.
Laura Riding The Map of Places
The spatial turn in the human sciences coupled with the development of open source digital mapping technologies, the impact of satnavs, and big data visualisation has led to an explosion of interest in maps of every kind. No longer the sole prerogative of land surveyors, military strategists, planners, professional cartographers and academics, map making has become a platform which engages people from all walks of life, a creative tool for the demos. Ordinary citizens can now create maps that tell their own story - they can use GPS to plan their journeys by land or sea, they can go ‘geo-caching’ and adventure into new and unfamiliar environments in search of buried treasure. Thanks to Google, they can get a close up view of almost every city on the planet.
Yet there is a downside to the story. Open source digital technologies may have put the means of mapping into the hands of ordinary citizens but in practice the outcome has been far from empowering. These developments are integral to processes of globalization which have hollowed out the resources of locally-situated knowledge and marginalised its communities of interest and affiliation. As a result there is a growing disjuncture between the enlarged scale and fluidity of social network mapping through virtual media and the narrowing scope and fixity of lived territories and place making, linked to foreclosures of social ambition and economic opportunity for large sections of the population.
Livingmaps Review is setting out to tell both sides of this story. It will celebrate the turn of cartography away from purely technical and academic concerns to become a subversive medium for political activists, visual artists, writers and community organisers. We aim to register the intellectual excitement and political challenge of these new developments, for while there is a proliferation of scholarly monographs and coffee table books, there is precious little writing that is both critically engaged and grounded in innovative practice. At the same time we will be not be ignoring the ‘dark matter’ of cartography hinted at by Borges and Laura Riding - its capacity to erase or obscure which is the reverse side of its power to totalise and make things visible. We believe that LMR has an important role to play in strengthening democratic politics by documenting and disseminating radical participatory forms of cartography, opening up new spaces and forms of creative representation in and against the mappings of Power.
As you will see from this issue our approach cuts across disciplines and fields with contributions from geographers, historians, archaeologists, ethnographers, sociologists, environmentalists, psychologists, poets, visuals artists and graphic designers. Each of the journal’s five sections has a specific remit.
- Navigations - full length articles with full critical apparatus
- Waypoints - shorter pieces on work in progress
- Mapworks - a gallery of maps, historical and contemporary, with short interpretative commentary or dialogue.
- Lines of Desire - short fiction, poetry and autobiography on cartographic themes, interviews with theorists and practitioners, and annotated performance walks and photo-documentation.
We have set out to blur the distinction between professional and amateur map makers and to encourage imaginative presentations in experimental audio-visual and graphic formats, especially from younger, unpublished contributors. Further information about our editorial and submissions policy is available from the Livingmaps Review site, which uses the Open Journal Systems platform for online submission and editing.
We will publish as we go, with two issues per year, in early Spring and Autumn. Forthcoming issues are planned on Indigenous Cartography and Smart Cities.
We hope you will enjoy this launch issue and join in the debate. Contact us with your comments and suggestions for future direction.
Harry Beck: Early sketch for the map of the London Underground system, 1931. From the British Library exhibition Drawing the Line and reproduced with kind permission of the British Library. The original is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Welcome to the second issue of Livingmaps Review. We are delighted to announce that a number of new members have joined our editorial team, strengthening the range of expertise on which we can draw. Gwilym Eades has taken over the editorship of Navigations, Nicolas Fonty has joined Barbara Brayshay on Waypoints, Blake Morris and Clare Qualmann are responsible for Lines of Desire, and Oscar Aldred is editing Mapworks. Christos Varvantakis and Eduardo Canteros join us as foreign correspondents and will be keeping the journal in touch with developments in Southern Europe and Latin America in future issues.
The articles in this issue deal with a wide range of topics in critical cartography. We continue to draw material from Livingmaps’ seminar series as well as commissioning work from academics, artists and activists. In this issue, we cover the recent exhibition of 20th Century maps at the British Library with a review by Rhiannon Firth and an interview with the curator, Tom Harper. The exhibition led us to ask about how far critical cartography can inform curatorial strategy and challenge common sense assumptions about the nature of the map and its relation to the world, whilst at the same time appealing to the non-specialist.
Navigations features an essay by Dick Pountain exploring recent developments in the neuro-science of cognitive mapping. The section also includes Dan MacQuillan’s counter-mapping of the corporate techno-utopia promoted by the smart city agenda, and the second part of ‘Our Kind of Town’, which sets out a manifesto for Livingmaps’ flagship project, A Citizen’s Atlas of London. George Jaramillo digs beneath the romantic landscape of the Lake District to show how it is marked by an invisible scenography created from the working lives of its lead miners.
The ethno-cartographic method used by Jaramillo is also taken up by other contributors. In Waypoints, Jina Lee discusses her use of life drawing maps in an ethnographic study of diasporic community amongst people from South Korea living in southwest London. And in Lines of Desire Hilary Powell presents her recent community art project with the last miners of the South Wales valleys, excavating the material and cultural history of King Coal for what it can tell us about contemporary environmental and social issues.
The editors of Waypoints have interviewed Steve Lowe about Jimmy Cauty’s touring exhibition of riot which models a post-apocalyptic landscape, and report on ‘Just Space’, a project of activist community network mapping in London. Lines of Desire explores the cartographic imaginary through work by Jennie Savage and Dillon de Give. Mapworks features a commentary on William Bunge’s iconic maps from Fitzgerald-Geography of a Revolution, a short piece by Oscar Aldred setting out some key issues of cartographic representation, and a short piece by Tim Ingold on the work of the map artist David Lemm. We hope to carry an extended interview with David Lemm in our next issue. Finally, the reviews section includes Dan Dobson on Curiocity and the LCC bomb maps, a review by two Brooklyn residents of Rebecca Solnit’s new atlas of New York, and an essay on a new collection of work by French critical cartographers.
In future issues
From time to time we will focus issues on particular themes. The first of these will be ‘Front Line Cartography: re-mapping the border'. The growth of populist movements with isolationist and nativist programmes is creating new topographies of exclusion and demarcations based on religion, culture, ethnicity and race. Soft borders are becoming hard ones. We want to address issues about the US/Mexican border, the Turkish/Greek front line in Cyprus, Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the internal borders created in Europe in response to the mass migration of refugees.
If you have an idea for this or for other future issues contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.