Contestational Cartographies Symposium

Maps represent, maps reveal, maps entice, maps distort. They selectively omit, they unwittingly exaggerate, and they even make outright lies. Though maps strive to project authority and objectivity, they cannot help but embed the biases, blind-spots and idiosyncrasies of their human authors. As our lives are played out in increasingly networked realms, we have become carto-literate as never before; we read maps produced by governments and corporate interests, yes, but also collaboratively author maps online, inscribing new representations of ourselves and our priorities. Contestational Cartographies introduces the thoughts of leading “experimental geographers” who employ mapping techniques in new modes of critical practice and cultural research and, in so doing, help us “read between the lines” of the world around us.

Pablo R. Garcia is the founder and principal of Pablo Garcia/POiNT, Pittsburgh, a multidisciplinary research and design studio dedicated to experiments in the spatial arts, in a variety of scales from the portable to the urban. From 2004-2007, Garcia worked as an architect and designer for Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Currently he is the Lucian and Rita Caste Chair in Architecture and Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon.

Lize Mogel (BFA ‘92 Carnegie Mellon) is an interdisciplinary artist who works with the interstices between art and cultural geography, and she inserts and distributes cartographic projects into public space and in publications. She has mapped public parks in Los Angeles, private military contractors in Iraq and Colombia, and future territorial disputes in the Arctic. She is co-editor of the book/map collection An Atlas of Radical Cartography and co-curator of the touring exhibition “An Atlas.”

Trevor Paglen is an artist, writer, and experimental geographer whose work blurs the disciplines of social science, contemporary art and investigative journalism. Paglen's meticulously researched books examine the secret relationships between land use and military power, and include Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA’s Rendition Flights and, most recently, Blank Spots on a Map.

Richard Pell (BFA ‘99 Carnegie Mellon) is a founding member of the Institute for Applied Autonomy, an art, engineering and tactical media collective. His work includes robotic, web and video based projects that call into question the imperatives that drive technological development, and explore the individual’s relationship to authority. Pell is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon.

Contestational Cartographies is co-organized by the Miller Gallery and the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University. Produced with support from the CMU School of Art Lecture Series, the Vice Provost for Education, Dorkbot Pittsburgh + the Brillobox.

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