Critical Cartographic Resources

In recent years, a large number of artists, designers and activists have turned to the map form to help them represent their questions, analysis and proposals for the spatial politics of contemporary life. The maps are fun, playful, they experiment with form and representation, and they are rigorous forms of research with pedagogical potential. Here are some on and offline resources to help you find out more about this field of cultural work. The examples are broken into three categories (and one general resource listing) which are significant of different kinds of map making happening today.

General Inspiration/Background
‘YOU ARE HERE but why?’ map festival
Department of Space and Land Reclamation (Chicago)
An Atlas of Radical Cartography Lize Mogul and Lex Bhagat, eds.
Mapquest at PS122Gallery (NYC)
Mapping Lecture Series at School of the Art Institute of Chicago Fall 04/05
Mapping pt.1 and 2 at Mess Hall (Chicago)

JustSpaces Exhibition

Autonomous Geographies journal
Open Street Map Wiki project
Creative Uses of Google Map Technology
On and Off the Map seminar by Sarah Kanouse
Abrams, Janet and Peter Hall, eds. Else/Where: Mapping New Cartographies of Networks and Territories. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Design Institute, 2006
Map of the Month Archive
Critical Spatial Practice Blog by Nick Brown
World Mapper
Social Design Notes
Myriad Editions thematic atlas series

Complexity/Power Mapping
“Networks have become the dominant structures of cultural, economic and military power. Yet this power remains largely invisible. How can the networked society be represented? And how can it be navigated, appropriated, reshaped in its turn?” – Brian Holmes, Network Maps, Energy Diagrams (

These maps defy traditional geo-reference conventions and incorporate flow-chart and information design techniques with sophisticated research and analysis of diffuse power structures.

Map Examples:
“What is Forum 2004 really about?”
Piquete Urbano
Privatization of War by Lize Mogel and Dario Azzellini
Prison Industrial Complex by Ashley Hunt
FTAA by Beehive Design Collective
CURRENCY SYMBOLS by Bill Rankin, 2006
“disOrientation guide 2006” by Critical Cartography Collective
NYC Guide to War Profiteers
Garbage Problems or Is Detroit A Shrinking City? by The Center for Urban Pedagogy
Incarcerated America
Bureau d’études

Resource/Asset Mapping
“Asset mapping involves documenting the tangible and intangible resources of a community, viewing it as a place with assets to be preserved and enhanced, not deficits to be remedied.” – Sandra Kerka (Source)

Credited to the “Asset-Based Community Development Institute” (John McKnight and John Kretzmann, co directors), “Asset Mapping” is a framework that can be used to describe a wide range of cartographic techniques dealing with the representation of resources to be distributed. (Source)

Map Examples:
Public Green by Lize Mogul
Green Map Project
Map Hub Pittsburgh
Polk Street Gentrification by Gay Shame SF
Biopower and Universities by Subrosa
West Harlem Environmental Action
Invisible Zagreb by Platforma981

Alternative Visions of Dominant Geography
“Around the globe, indigenous tribes are mapping their ancestral land boundaries using global satellite positioning systems to guard against depredations by local governments and private companies.” – Julia Scheeres (Source)
From Indigenous to Psychogeography, mapping techniques that re-imagine the existing terms of dominant geography are creating alternative visions and empowering new actors to author their own cartographic projects with participatory and social methodologies.

Map Examples:
You Are Here Toronto Map 2005 by Future Farmers
MY CITIES by Bill Rankin, 2003
In The Weather by Free Walking
Spain/Morocco map by Hackitectura
“Assassins Live Here” by Grupo de Arte Callejero

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