This blog is a research platform organizing projects, examples, and thoughts surrounding the idea of an urban mapping which reads the city as a network of individual activities and relationships in time rather than as a static form. This research looks at the city both from within and from above as kind of urban cat-scan. 

Friday, October 03, 2008

A trajectory is a story... is a Map

"The simplest form of a geographical map is not the one that seems most natural to us today, or namely a map representing the surface of the ground as seen by an extraterrestrial gaze.
The first need to put places on a map is connected with travel: it is the reminder of the succession of the stages, the tracing of a route.
Following a path from the beginning to the end gives a special kind of satisfaction, both in life and in literature (the journey as narrative structure), so one may well wonder why the theme of the journey has not met with the same success, and not only appears sporadically, in the figurative arts.
The need to comprehend in one image both the dimension of time and that of space lies at the origin of cartography. Time as a story of the past... and time in the future: as the presence of obstacles that are encountered on the journey, and here the weather (tempo atmosferico) is joined with chronological time (tempo cronologico).
The geographical map, in short, although static, implies a narrative idea, it is conceived in keeping with an itinerary, it is an Odyssey."

Italo Calvino. Il viadante nella mappa, in Collezione di sabbia, Palomar/Mondadori, Milan 1984

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Section - a Drawing/ and a Movie

Former student of mine, Mike Stopka presents us also with the familiar section drawing; in this case to scale, with exact dimensions and placement of windows and doors and with appropriate wall thicknesses, yet suddenly a video window appears animating the static drawing with the activities of the user within the space. As we watch, we see and hear the user moving from one domestic activity to another as he crosses from space to space within the drawing and across the section cut. At points, we are zoomed into the video leaving the drawing as it exists the frame of the document. This document shows the potential of creating documents where we can be immersed into a story held within ( a movie) while being in an architectural document. In this case, the section-cut fluctuates between being a drawing and being a movie while being both. In this drawing/movie the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the place are presented in their intimate relationship.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sections - Dissection of Time / Space

In "Living Section" like in a conventional section-cut drawing, we are able to view and understand the adjacencies of spaces, their configurations and relative proportions, etceteras yet more importantly because of the ability of the video camera to record activities in time, we are able to understand the fluctuation of programs that are happening across this section of the city over a period of time.

"Living Section" was done by my student Christopher Lanzisiera in a seminar/studio called Notation A/V taught at the University of Michigan.
View Living Section here:

Notation A/V

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

MotionBased Event - Mapping trajectories in extreme sports

What is currently happening is a convergence of video, GPS and the Internet for documentation of extreme sports. These professional athletes want to be able to both map their experiences but also map their performance data. What is possible with the combination of these current technologies is that an athlete can map a personal itinerary before an event, participate in the event, retrieve the data from a GPS device synced with a video camera. That data (video, audio, duration, speed, cadence, heart rate, location, altitude) can be loaded to a website where it can be mapped and analyzed.

see MotionBased event
MotionBased website

Friday, April 18, 2008

City as a text written by individual daily walking trajectories

“The ordinary practitioners of the city live ‘down below’, below the thresholds at which visibility begins. The walk – an elementary form of this experience of the city: they are walkers, Wandersmanner, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban ‘text’ they write without being able to read it. These practitioners make use of spaces that cannot be seen; their knowledge of them is as blind as that of lovers in each other’s arms. The paths that correspond in this intertwining, unrecognized poems in which each body is an element signed by many others, elude legibility. It is as though the practices organizing a bustling city were characterized by their blindness. The networks of these moving, intersecting writings compose a manifold story that has neither author nor spectator, shaped out of fragments of trajectories and alterations of spaces: in relation to representations, it remains daily and indefinitely other.” Michel de Certeau, Walking the City in The Practice of Everyday Life

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Inversion of Space: Figure of city as traffic flow

One of a series of drawings by Architect Louis Kahn in 1953 of Philadelphia which illustrate the city through the movement, speed, and flow of its vehicles rather than by its physical configuration. Building blocks are simply suggested as a residual space defined via the accumulation of marks which define the traffic flow.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Flight Tracking - a living map of sky activity in the U.S.

To follow the cabspotting post... we move above to the trajectories in the sky . Flight Aware offers realtime (almost - there is a six minutes delay) as well as departure and arrival times, progress along airplane paths, data analysis, discussion groups, pilot itineraries, route analysis, traffic graphs...

mapping of all flight movements in the U.S. during a 24-hour period

mapping of a day (from 4am until midnight) of snapshots of all the radar/radio contact air traffic in US airspace

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cabspotting - a living map using cabs and gps

In this living map the city of San Francisco is studied via the trajectories of individual cabs moving through the city. The map is created by these multiple itineraries and also analyzed by an array of artists. Social, economical and cultural tendencies of the city begin to become evident. 

Monday, February 18, 2008

A drawing that you can feel / x-ray technology transformed

A PhD candidate in Sweeden has developed a new technology which allows for the virtual touching of organs inside of a human's body while looking at the x-ray image. Haptic tecnology is used here and the computer keyboard is replaced by a "pen-like three-dimensional mouse" which turns the x-ray drawing into a drawing that can be felt.

link to article Fancy a touch of my organs, mate?

Trajects pendant un an d'une jeune fille du XVIe arrondissement

The accumulation of lines in this map captures the routine movement in one year's time of a young girl in Paris through her daily trajectories to piano lessons, home and school.

The study was done by French Urban Sociologist Paul-Henry Chombart de Lauwe in 1957 whose interest was to understand the city through the activities of the citizens. His work was meant as research for urban development decision makers.

One of his works - Paris et l'agglomeration parisienne (1952) is "a reference work, presenting at the same time snapshots of Paris and an experimentation of new methodological tools (aerial views, districts' monographs, "dynamic" cartography - that is to say making connections between different parameters - unstructured interviews, research-action, commented bibliographies, etc.)."

Another project La Decouverte Aerienne du Monde as presented in the linked blog, seems to be of an alternate approach... the mapping as done from above from an all encompassing view as opposed/ or maybe to be complementary to the internal understanding of the city via the movements and activities of individual inhabitants.

link to various books on Chombart de Lauwe and his work

Negotiations of Traffic on a Street in India


FROM BELOW (from within) absolutely crazy!

B i C i N g - BarCeloNa through the individual trajectories of movING BiCis

This is the project that I am planning for a mapping of Barcelona. For now I am simply posting a photo of the numerous trajectories start points. More later on the plan.

Urban Eyes

"URBAN EYES is a critical design concept combining RFID technology, CCTV cameras and pigeons to create a unique service for urban spaces."

link to Urban Eyes blog

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nokia and Google Earth - competing in the merging of GPS and Net space

Nokia has announced on Monday in Barcelona that new cell phones were designed to more closely link global positioning systems while Google Maps (their competitor) who also presented a prototype of its own Android operating system for mobile phones.

Both companies understand the importance of how people's location affects how they use Net space. However, Nokia has introduced a device (N96) which allows for videos to be shot on location and to be "geotag" - uploaded with the actual location of collected images into a website not unlike Google's YouTube. Also a new feature focused on directions specifically to pedestrians as opposed to the more common vehicular directions. There is a "walk" feature and an "accelometer" feature for detecting shift of direction. The free internet sharing service "share on Ovi" allows uploading and sharing in a variety of formats in an interactive community similar to Facebook.

According to an article on on 10/1/07, Nokia has also adquired Navteq, a mapping software allowing it to also compete with Google on mapping.

To see most recent BusinessWeek article Nokia and Goole Vie for Mobile Wed Role

Other articles on Nokia's new cell phone options and their potential mapping possibilities,2817,2259127,00.asp

More on recent developments of navigation and mapping devices

Bodily Engagement in New Media Art

Some thoughts on temporality and the body - a discussion from a course being taught at UCLA called Media Theory for the 21st Century

"Media theory is transforming the ways in which literature and art conceive textuality, do research, focus on projects, and present their results. This seminar will focus specially on New Media theory, electronic textuality, and New Media art, exploring the ways in which text, image, graphics, and design interact in digital media. It will explore the implications of media-specific analysis, asking in what ways and with what implications a media-focused approach changes traditional disciplinary practices. Among the provocative questions the seminar will entertain is whether a work has to have words to qualify as “literary,” and how text and image change when they interact together. Other issues will focus on the position of the embodied creator and user in New Media, and the ways in which digital works, as time-based media, change reading, writing, and interpretive practices."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Navigadget - a device for tracking movement

real time movement tracking device that uses GPS technology

Pictometry - an aerial imaging system

uses multiple angle photography, GIS to measure, see, orientate.

Swarming: the organization of groups in motion

In this New York Times Article "From Ants to People, an Instinct to Swarm" researchers speak about movement of groups and instinctive group organization. We humans are not the most advanced.

Monday, February 11, 2008


An animated and absorbent wall barrier designed by my design studio fieldoffice. The superABSORBER is a new proposal for highway sounds barrier which in addition to absorbing sound pollution will also absorb airborne and light pollution.

This animated diagram done using MAYA conveys the main attributes of the superABSORBER highway wall barrier system. In this project we are using video as a tool to understand the moving forces that affect the design of the wall. 

As an ever changing material, the superABSORBER is affected by the daily rhythms of traffic movement that it mediates and exploits as a cinematic experience. This video shows one of the sides that the superABSORBER interfaces – the highway and the neighborhood by the projection of light across and through its surface. The superABSORBER is enlivened by the passing light of the automobile while mitigating this potentially negative by-product of the roadway into an intimate play of light on the side of the residences.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Amsterdam RealTime

A mapping of Amsterdam incorporating public participation

done by Amsterdam's Waag Society in collaboration with Artist Esther Polak (2002)

"Every inhabitant of Amsterdam has an invisble map of the city in his head. The way he moves about the city and the choices made in this process are determined by this mental map. Amsterdam RealTime attampts to visualize these mental maps through examining the mobile behaviour of the city's users.

During two months (3 Oct to 1 Dec 2002) all of Amsterdam's residents are invited to be equipped with a tracer-unit. This is a portable device developed by Waag Society which is equipped with GPS: Global Positioning System. Using satellite data the tracer calculates its geographical position. Therse tracers' data are sent in realtime to a central point. By visualizing this data against a black background traces, lines, appear. From these lines a (partial) map of Amsterdam constructs itself. This map does not register streets or blocks of houses, but consists of the sheer movements of real people."

Web and Beyond Mobility

upcoming conference at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam

deadline March 2

Web and Beyond Mobility website

Traffic Primers

work by Terraswarm: a series of experiments describing the city via rate, sequence, transition and feedback.