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Themesicon: navigation pathMapping and Texticon: navigation pathEditorial
Mapping and Text
Rudolf Frieling
Internet Mapping Projekt (Dodge, Martin), 2000


From the outset, maps have surveyed and inscribed territories in order to take possession of them, to occupy and colonize them. So historically speaking a map was not just a cognitive instrument but primarily an instrument in the competition for economic advantage and power. This world survey narrative goes hand in hand with the invention and testing of better navigation instruments and timepieces. It was essential to establish an individual position in relation to traversed space. So the notion of symbolic, religiously determined representation of spatial connections was accordingly detached from an analogous and indexical structure that cross-referenced geographical space with cartographic representations gained from nautical and optical instruments. Cartographers in their turn worked with these instruments as if in a panoptic village, regardless of the fact that they had always been part of the traversed space they were ostensibly mapping from the outside. Here the map did not just represent abstract space, but also paths and routes, in other words, human practice in space.

Precisely this discursive aspect (derived from Latin discursus «a running about» [1] ) forms the


starting-point for a specifically artistic treatment of maps. This view of mapping creates a‹different› view of maps and ultimately of the impossibility of mapping the world. Linked with this is a particular fascination with encyclopaedic and universal or holistic approaches, as embodied in the vision of a database record of the world. The 1990s Internet boom and our growing awareness of living in a networked society have stimulated research from media artists as well as scientists and programmers to develop a new topography of the information society. There are mailing-lists and web sites dedicated to this phenomenon; the «Atlas of Cybergeography» provides a clear basis for exploring them. The corresponding text by Martin Dodge, «Seeing inside the cloud: Some ways to map the Internet», investigates the various functions and interests embedded in these new cartographies. Its title also refers to the condition of this terrain as a kind of cloud. But how can a cartographer survey the «inside of a cloud»? And what spatial construction is occurring cognitively in the cartographer's imagination? Dodge uses a large number of maps of the Internet to show how these are also based on a certain calculating quality.

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