Posted July 1st 2013 at 6:24 am by
in Art

"On the Map" Questions Traditional Mapmaking Logic

Maps blind and unveil. Authors of maps make choices about what to include and ignore, about how to code and represent. Conventions strengthen the mapmaker’s claim that “this is here.”  Meanwhile, in the midst of rapid urbanization, planning maps continue to privilege built form and one that is created for an idealized public with assumed spatial practices.

This documentary shows how an MIT research group, SLAB (Sidewalk Lab), has been producing experimental maps to uncover a wider public of everyday urban people and their negotiations with public space. Directed by MIT Associate Professor Annette M. Kim, SLAB is currently producing a traveling exhibit of immersive, digital narrative maps that will open at MIT’s Wolk Gallery this September. After MIT, the show will travel to Ho Chi Minh City’s main exhibition space in order to see how art interacts with public debates about the legitimacy of street vendors in a non-participatory planning system. It will then show in Los Angeles, home to the largest group of Vietnamese expatriates. The traveling exhibit will be accompanied by a book that will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2014. This book further elaborates the possibilities of using critical cartography for spatial analysis and public engagement. For more information about SLAB, visit

"On the Map" Questions Traditional Mapmaking Logic

Two men playing a board game: an everyday, uncontrived “pop-up” use of public space in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo by Holly Durso.

Post by MIT SLAB.

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