Imaginary Cities

In the cartographic tradition the ultimate end is to produce the most accurate-as-possible representation of the physical world. Calvino works as an important evocative reference, but in this field the famous go-to literary reference is Luis Borges’ “Del rigor en la ciencia”, a short story in which Cartography becomes such a pervasive science that ”..the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province.” almost reaching the impossible dream of a 1:1 representation of the world.

In the West, Cartography comes in fact from a scientific and engineering tradition. It served the purpose of land control and regulation, and has very rigorous standards. I quite like that in this project we started from an opposite vision: drawing by hand something completely arbitrary. Something you dream of.

It is even more interesting if you take into account that, as a mean to the end of of producing our imaginary dream-like cities, we used cutting-edge technology released less than a week ago. In Invisible Cities you can detect a subversion of technology: in this digital age maps are a product of code, something which is often perceived as dry and technical. But by creatively using code you might end up with completely unexpected outcomes. We had drawn the cities, but these are the networks that ultimately “imagined” them.

We explored also the opportunity to shed light on social issues by comparing and contrasting extremely diverse cities. Even though there are initiatives supported by humanitarian agencies like The Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders to map “unmapped” places, the stark difference in availability of geographic (open)data in cities from the so-called “developed” and “developing” countries is truly struck. Thus, a natural extension of this project might precisely be to employ this technology to show the incredible, often unfortunate, disparity in our world. And encourage people to think and act upon it.

Year: 2016

Team: Gene Kogan, Gabriele Gambotto, Ambhika Samsen, Andrej Boleslavský, Michele Ferretti, Damiano Gui, Fabian Frei

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