This week’s reading, Hypercities, presented us—along with an in-depth investigation of the scope, boundaries, and limitations of “thick mapping” (the multi-layered structure of digital maps)—with an outline of the relationship between text, performance, and non-linearity that we have been exploring since the beginning of the semester:
[Hypercities] is not a book about “maps” per se but about exploring, participating, and listening, something that transforms our conception of mapping into a practice of ethics. At the core of this book is an idea about the possibility of expanding participation and of the value of knowledge in the service of the public good.
But why write a book? A book allows for the choreography of an argument. While you can certainly start at any point in the book or skip around at will, if you read the pages sequentially, you will be brought through the argument as a choreographed experience, much like watching a dance ensemble perform a piece from start to finish. The authors imagine the book as a stage upon which a performance takes place, one in which many voices and movements come together in time. In this sense, the book is not a simple linear narrative; rather, it is a staging of various kinds of narratives and media in a spatial arrangement that is cumulative and recursive. In other words, the book represents a practice of mapping, an emplotment of many narratives and voices at once. (p. 7; emphasis added).
We have been “performing the museum” and discussing the performative power of cultural objects for some time now. Hypercities, and other online projects linking history, memory, and material culture, such as The Curio Project (recently launched at the University of Texas, Dallas) or the ones explored in previous weeks, are helping us in further direct our research.