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A Missing Tool: Poetry as Mapping

Part 2 Dissertation 2011
Calum Robinson
Edinburgh College of Art | UK
Since the earliest maps, human kind has felt compelled to record, analyse and represent the World. It has fascinated us, as we discover and determine new relationships within the natural environment and the ever expanding built one we try to command. The term ‘mapping’ is applied to document this process, although it is a reasonably flexible word that encompasses many different disciplines. Today it is strongly associated with the identity of the cartographic map but is additionally practiced in the lexicon of computing, genetics, physiology, linguistics and mathematics.

This dissertation seeks to explain how mapping has come to express our understanding of relationships that favour rational identification over emotionally subjective and expressive purposes. It analyses the evolution of Cartesian based mapping and aims to develop thoughts on “absorptive mapping” through narrative, songlines and poetry. It suggests that poetry can challenge the limitations of conventional mapping with its candid observation and ability to stimulate contemplation; advocating an alternative tool to map and discover place.

Calum Robinson

Chris Speed
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