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May 4, 2018, from 9:30 am to 11:30 am

Map as Method and Medium: A Teaching Workshop with Shannon Mattern

Event Information

Presenting the Spring 2018 Mellon Workshop

Organized in coordination with the Spring 2018 Mellon Lecture (details here)


The prevalence of smartphones, the rise of Google, and the widespread availability of open geographic data have made maps an everyday, everywhere medium. Within the academy, these same developments, compounded with greater access to digitized archival material, have led to the increased use of mapping as a method and mode of representation in a variety of disciplines. As new geospatial tools shape our modes of inquiry – and even help to frame the very questions we ask – it’s important that we recognize maps’ epistemological, ontological, and pedagogical power. As we’ll discuss in this workshop, regarding maps as media compels us to think more broadly and critically about how they work – to consider their material forms and sensory codes; the protocols that direct their operation; the processes by which they’re created, circulated, and used – and by whom. And thinking about map-making as media-making prompts us to appreciate the wide variety of cartographic practices at our disposal, and to weigh the affordances and limitations of various mapping tools and techniques.


Shannon Mattern is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at The New School. Her writing and teaching focus on archives, libraries, and other media spaces; media infrastructures; spatial epistemologies; and mediated sensation and exhibition. She is the author of The New Downtown Library: Designing with Communities; Deep Mapping the Media City; and Code and Clay, Data and Dirt, all published by University of Minnesota Press. She contributes a regular long-form column about urban data and mediated infrastructures to Places, a journal focusing on architecture, urbanism, and landscape, and she collaborates on public design and interactive projects and exhibitions. You can find her at wordsinspace.net.