Exploring the Political Agency of Mapping and Maps

What is being being mapped and to what ends? – CHRISTIAN NOLD
21 September 2012

The presentation discusses Christian’s PhD case study which involves a process of following an engineering focused, noise mapping project funded by the EU. The case study is used to identify the entanglement between subjective experience & devices and power which are at the heart of mapping. The case study highlights a conflict between the experiences of local resident with noise pollution versus the institutional aspirations of mapping protocols. The details of the project expose fundamental ontological and epistemological conflicts about what is being mapped and to what ends. In the project this conflict can be traced backwards from the tools created for the project all the way back to the agenda of the EU research project. The aim of this talk is to provide a real-world example of the role of subjectivity as a material affect which is engaged in a political struggle over the legitimacy of subjective & affectual knowledge. Within the applied disciplines that work with mapping, this struggle for legitimacy is usually treated as a technical issue and thus not addressed. From the cultural side, mapping is often only seen as an abstract metaphor. This talk aims to bridge both the cultural and technical understandings, by suggesting a critical material practice which can engage with real world issues.

Christian Nold gave the talk at the Development and Planning Unit who organised the London Mapping Seminar. The whole event is part of the research platform ‘the Heuristics of Mapping Urban Environmental Change’. Here is a link to the audio recording.

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