network news: the power of the map 1 2 3 4 5 6

this illustration shows the goddess diana, english rose, princess of wales, duchess of cornwall. she is imprinted upon the panorama in her third and most fearsome aspect as the crone, or green witch. she is seated on the mutilated dolphin. her left hand launches the nuclear trident. from a 1702 drawing in the barton-booth gallery, warminster


S ince the 1950s, Guerrilla Sign Ontologists, Situationists and Psychogeographers have delighted in using the Power of the Map to decode the urban landscape. They have explored Manchester using a map of Milan , wandered Newcastle guided by a map of the Berlin U-Bahn, and explored Hackney with a map of the Moon. This re-use of maps may at first sight seem to be a simple economy measure - but these were in fact experiments aimed at creating spatial detournements, subverting the reified image of the city. By the intentional misreading of city space, the city would "be experienced not as a thing at all, but as possibilities".

As the cityscape becomes more homogenised, places become increasingly interchangeable and any map will do. It is now possible to explore the rain forests of South America using a map of Cornish clay pits. The West of England can be explored using a map of the Cydonia area of Mars. It is unwise to confuse the map with the territory, but we are told that thanks to the wonder of cyberspace there is no need to travel anymore, anyway. You can just sit in front of your computer, listening to the traffic outside going nowhere.

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