Saturday, June 23, 2007

The view from nowhere?
Spatial politics and cultural meanings of satellite imagery

I am editing a theme issue in the journal Geoforum examining the socio-technical nature of high-resolution satellite imagery in an era of changing access through Internet portals such as Google Earth/MS Virtual Earth. The theme isssue is in collaboration with my colleague Chris Perkins and follows on from successful conference sessions at the recent AAG meeting in San Francisco. (More details are in the proposal document we submitted to the journal.)

We have seven papers promised, along with several shorter artistic observation pieces. The line-up is as follows:

1. Seeing nothing from nowhere – Google Earth and the illusion of information
Robert Barr Geography, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester

2. NGOs as intelligence agencies: The empowerment of civil society by commercial high-resolution satellite imagery
Steven Livingston and Sean Aday School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University

3. Beyond Apollo and Adorno: Dionysus and Walter Benjamin on Google Earth
Paul Kingsbury Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University John Paul Jones Department of Geography and Regional Development, University of Arizona

4. Placemarks and waterlines: How is the racialized landscapes of post-Katrina New Orleans revealed in Google Earth
Michael Crutcher and Matthew Zook Department of Geography, University of Kentucky

5. Nowhere is everywhere? Towards post-modernist ubiquitous computing-based geographic communication
Francis Harvey, Department of Geography, Leicester University

6. Secret sites and satellite imagery: A possible reversal of the Panopticon?
Martin Dodge and Chris Perkins, Geography, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester

7. Digging into Google Earth: Interfacing history
Lisa Parks, Department of Film and Media Studies, University of California-Santa Barbara.

Artistic observations
  • Kathryn Yusoff, researcher/artist, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University
  • Nikolas R. Schiller, independent geospatial artist, Washington D.C.,
  • Laura Kurgan, architect/design theorist, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hi, a slow month for blogging what with one thing and another. Just had our article 'Rethinking Maps' published in Progress in Human Geography. It will be interesting to see if it gets much reaction. (A local copy is here).

Abstract: In this paper we argue that cartography is profitably conceived as a processual, rather than representational, science. Building on recent analysis concerning the philosophical underpinnings of cartography we question the ontological security of maps, contending that it is productive to rethink cartography as ontogenetic in nature; that is maps emerge through practices and have no secure ontological status. Drawing on the concepts of transduction and technicity we contend that maps are of-the-moment, brought into being through practices (embodied, social, technical); that mapping is a process of constant reterritorialization. Maps are never fully formed and their work is never complete. Maps are transitory and fleeting, being contingent, relational and context-dependent; they are always mappings; spatial practices enacted to solve relational problems (eg, how best to create a spatial representation, how to understand a spatial distribution, how to get between A and B, and so on). Such a rethinking, we contend, provides a fresh perspective on cartographic epistemology, and could work to provide a common framework for those who undertake mapping as applied knowledge (asking technical questions) and those that seek to critique such mapping as a form of power/knowledge (asking ideological questions). We illustrate our argument through an analysis of mapping practices.

Full citation: Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge, 2007, "", Progress in Human Geography 31: 331-344.