From post-representational cartography to a muscovy duck

Jeremy Crump


Issue 7 of Livingmaps Review has stretched the definition of autumn to the limit by appearing on 6 December. But in this case at least, late is better than never. As ever our intention has been to show the broad range of subject matter and methods which writers are engaging with, and it is pleasing that, taken together, the articles are broad in scope, both spatially – from Seattle via the Flow Country, Belfast and Oxford to Pondicherry, Shanghai and the Mallee in the Australian state of Victoria. This time, our cover illustration is taken from a piece by Rebecca Agnes which is discussed in Anita Burchardt’s response to her. A soft map of Europe seemed apposite at the end of 2019.

A pervasive theme in the issue is that of post-representational cartography, expressed through a rich variety of media – apps and QI codes (Jin-Kyu Jung and Ted Hiebert), comic books (Giada Peterle), buttons (Amy Mulvenna), embroidery (Rebecca Agnes), wall drawings (Tracey Claire Hill’s ‘cognitive surveillance’) and walking (Sharanya Murali’s ‘cartography of roaming’). Several of the pieces reflect the use of participatory mapping techniques in struggles over empowerment and the agendas of the excluded (Mulvenna, Jung and Hiebert). Paula Larsson and Olivia Durand, from Uncomfortable Oxford, look at the part which maps and walks can play in getting us to re-examine the myths that constitute heritage. Sonia Overall, departing from conventional framing of flâneurie and the derive, invokes psychogeography and gives us a new approach to T S Eliot’s The Wasteland. Other contributors also turn to psychogeography as a metaphor which relates the mapping of the visible world to changes in perception of the world. In their work on homelessness and the politics of public space, Jin-Kyu Jung set some very practical field research, drawing on techniques form both cartography and the graphic arts, in the context of social theory. They invoke a non-mystical psychogeography to describe changing perspectives on the physical environment among people subject to homelessness in Seattle. Sam Nightingale’s essay traces the history of the Mallee through the perambulations of an itinerant cinema family, looking to capture not the physical geography of the area but ‘a feeling, a sense of something unseen’.

For those who would like their cartography a little more hardcore, this month’s review section takes in Claire Reddleman’s study of cartographic abstraction in contemporary art (by Bjarki Bragason) and a substantial review essay by Mike Duggan of Matthew Edney’s authoritative new book, Cartography – the ideal and its history. These sit alongside Helen Stratford and Lawrence Bradby’s fable The Day of the Duck, which, despite its light-hearted approach, reminds us of impending environmental crisis, as do several of the other pieces. Daniel Lee and Jasper Coppes, in their piece on the Flow Country of northern Scotland, introduce evocative films about the landscape of the United Kingdom’s great northern bog, now a post-industrial landscape in the process of rewilding. Phil Cohen’s tail piece, ‘Mapping the anthropocene’ is a reflection on Bary Lopez’s short story ‘The Mappist’ (2000), the representation of a life as a journey between places.

We hope that the breadth of subject, style and presentation in LMR7 will both interest readers and encourage contributions to future issues. If you have a proposal for a piece, do not hesitate to contact us via the LMR site (information for authors).






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