To date, the connection between cinema and emerging forms of mapping has not been explored in any depth through either cinematic or new media discourses. Nevertheless, there is an expansive theoretical and structural relationship found in emerging mapping practices and contemporary cinema art, particularly in terms of their engagement with spatial environments through screen-based mediators. I would argue that a shared logic of hypermediation—that is, mediated fragmentation and multiplicity—exists in both cinema art and new mapping practices, as well as a common engagement with the mediation of space.
The logic of hypermediacy and the hypermediation of space are found in mapping practices and cinema art through the presence of multiplicity, the act of fragmentation, and a constant reference to the presence of a mediator. Simply compared, new forms of mapping and modern works of cinema art utilize objects of mediation to frame disparate datasets of symbols and signs from divergent spaces. In doing so, they elicit the mental formation of navigable space in the viewer/user—a hybrid space created somewhere in-between exterior points of reference and the self-center of the viewer. They mediate and organize divergent datasets to integrate them into a cohesive space of multiplicity—a mercurial location where connections and possibilities may emerge that could not otherwise do so in the ontological rigidity of a finite, determined, single space. Essentially, these practices communicate the presence of space through the aforementioned characteristics of fragmentation, multiplicity, and reference to the medium. In such a way, both contemporary cinematic art and emerging practices of mapping engage in the rupturing of homogenous space and the multiplication of heterogeneous environments, affecting a hypermediation of diverse spatiality that redefines what attributes demarcate a unified space.
Over the past fifteen years, cinema has become increasingly prominent as a material medium in the art world. As a material medium, cinema has been incorporated into art not simply by depicting moving images or through filmic allusions, but through the use of cinematic language and form as fundamental visual structures. By using cinematic language and form, modern art has also engaged cinematic space in various ways to expand the parameters of mediated territories and broaden the viewers’ experiences of on-screen environments. Contemporary cinema art blurs the lines between physical spaces, imaginary spaces, emotional spaces, and social spaces. This trend is exemplified in the cinematic works of Abbas Kiarostami, Yang Fudong, Tacita Dean, Anri Sala, Peter Tscherkassky, Matthew Barney, and Elija-Liisa Ahtila. In some manner, all of the cinematic works by these artists are marked by distinct and deliberate engagements with a self-conscious, mediated, hybridized, navigation of space.
As cinema art has expanded its engagement with space, a host of new mapping practices has arisen in response to virtual networks and on-line culture. The majority of these practices attempt to re-contextualize and explore the concept of what defines a “space.” Many of these practices are technology-driven and based in networks or systems of information (in mobile communication networks, satellite coordinate systems, and social networks) using digital media and communication-based platforms as a tool to navigate and address alternative perspectives on space. Projects exemplifying this trend are Waag Society’s Amsterdam Realtime; Scott Patterson, Marina Zurkow and Julian Bleecker’s PDPal; Proboscis’ Urban Tapestries; or Michelle Teran’s Life, A Users Manual. Many such projects have been implemented or integrated into the cultural sphere as public art projects or interactive public events that represent “alternate” cartographies and navigational tools. These emerging mapping practices, like contemporary cinema art, engage in a self-conscious process in order to integrate physical space with other spaces: networked spaces, communicative spaces, cultural spaces or political spaces.
Mapping with the cinematic medium uniquely addresses space through its dual existence as a process of mapping and a cohesive map object. It is inherently linked to the physical representation of space like no other form of visual communication. It communicates a corporeal experience of the primary senses, utilizes a pervasive and widely understood visual language, and subverts the distance of a zenith perspective. The unique mediating experience of a cinematic view is created by a tension of optical distance coupled with the intense proximity of a medium, unique in that it points toward the embodied possibilities that might emerge between corporeal and non-corporeal spaces. By articulating the possibilities, the extant plurality of a space, you create a larger space for possible existence; you draw out and articulate the inherent potential of an environment. In short, the more possibilities that exist for something, the more space is present. Since cinema is the basis for the modern cultural interface, an interface that mediates “complicated” space, it makes sense to utilize it for spatial engagement and mapping processes.
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