Posted by: googlemapsclass | July 21, 2009

The map is not the territory


From “Situationist Space” by Tom McDonough (253):

Fredric Jameson concludes that the fragmentation of urban space and the social body creates the need for maps that would “enable a situational representation on the part of the individual subject to that vaster and properly unrepresentable totality which is the ensemble of the city’s structure as a whole.” These maps would allow their users to “again begin to grasp our positioning as individual and collective subjects and regain a capacity to act and struggle which is at present neutralized by our spatial as well as our social confusion.”

Why, at a moment when we flock to the placeless space of online environments, do we increasingly choose to navigate those spaces using real-world maps? (Note the new Flickr map interface; the “Places” tab in the latest iPhoto, below.)


Is it to compensate for a loss of connection with the physical environment? To convince ourselves that we still occupy real space, however colonized by the simulacral blanket of Google Maps? To screen the frighteningly unmappable space of the Internet — our new, enveloping, unmappable home?

What would a map that combined our physical and virtual environments look like?

Guy Debord’s The Naked City, 1957

Top image courtesy of Here & There
See also >

Work Cited: Tom McDonough, “Situationist Space,” Guy Debord and the Situationist International, Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press, 2004, 241-265.


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