reverse mapping


Now let us look at what we might imagine the opposite of mapping to look like. An inverse map; reverse data-imaging. That is, as we have created these powerful tools for mapping, for re-creating the physical world as information, we have also created a backwards path in which the information becomes the physical world. By manipulating the map, by altering the objectification, we alter that which was objectified. The map becomes the plan. And this is where design begins. After all, what is the point of a map if you aren’t going to follow it?

Once we have completely mapped a situation, from the weather to the physical senses indicating emotions to the thoughts produced, we attempt to re-create the situation. What we might have regarded as preservation, is actually design. It is in the forms of re-creation in which we design an attempt to re-live. From keeping a seashell for remembering a trip to the beach, to the physical re-creation of an entire town such as Madison, IN (a whole river town canned and preserved for the historic preservationists and tourists), to a complete virtual environment (can’t help but think of that Star Trek re-creation room- sometimes we attempt to live within the map as opposed to the physical world it supposedly represents). Mapping allows us to set up an economy where the representation is regarded as better than equal to what is represented. Virtual reality is a value-added map posing as reality. A map that we can inhabit. Preservation is a value-added reality posing as a map. A history we can re-live.

This is the feat attempted by design – the reverse engineering of time itself. The physical is created to imitate the map. Once we have mapped emotions, we can reverse engineer these emotions. We can alter the emotions by altering the map. We link all sorts of things to their cause and effect. We break them down so that we can create our own mix. It is not enough to map the emotions, we also must know how to induce the emotions so that the map may become the plan. So that we can attempt immortality by re-living. But this reverse engineering of time always includes a ‘value-added’ change. We extract from our maps what we would like to see. We can not resist the urge to improve the past, to overcome a discrepancy which existed in the original moment, the original life, which we would like to eliminate (to design) out of our immortal re-creation.

Now our multi-dimensional, multi-perspective map of our own emotions can not only become an environment which we inhabit, but it can also allow manipulations of our information environment which we can FEEL. By grabbing and adjusting emotional information objects, by swirling the arms we change the intensity, by moving the hands we adjust the colors, by thought and language and speech itself we immediately inhabit the map and the design as we create it. Lightspeed is our only limit. The manipulation of information is made to simultaneously manipulate the physical. The map and plan are inseparable. This is the goal of design.

This is what architecture has always been. A physical space made to conform to our thoughts about it. A physical creation of our idea. Reverse data-imaging: the landscape is altered to match the map: the plan.

But we have also created the antithesis of objectification. That which can not be objectified. And as we increasingly attempt to make our world look like our models of it, the discrepancies between the real world and our maps becomes increasingly evident and problematic. This is the eternal struggle of design, to overcome this discrepancy, to eliminate this difference.

We have employed numerous strategies: from trying to make the world not change through preservation in formaldehyde, to inhabiting the map instead of the world through virtual reality; from overcoming space through networks and repetitions, to overcoming time through lightspeed and delayed reality; from simply tweaking our view of the world though filters (an integration of representation and what is represented), to hiding the differences in places where we will not see it.

Politics is both a map and a plan. It is meant to represent people and extend this representation into the physical world. But if this is all that politics was, we wouldn’t need politics. Why do we need a representation of our self? Can we not represent our self as our self? Why would we need an entity which represents us and then puts this representation back upon us? Would not politics only serve to staticize us, to force us to conform to that which we have chose to represent our selves? Would it not only serve to make us stone images of our images?

But in democracy we get to choose which image we will make our self conform to, this is the whole seduction of it (as well as capitalism and consumerism). Politics is the plan passed off as the map. And of course, it is a value-added plan, one which does not merely represent, but improves the representation before implementation. This is how interests are served and how interest is made. Images are manipulated.

Politics is a vehicle through which we force our selfs and others to conform to a past image, a representative, of our self. Politics is a means of increasing stability by increasing our predictability, by holding us to an image of our self which we produced. The problem then is two-fold: 1) Politics holds us to an image of who we used to be, therefore staticizing us; and 2) politics never gives us the image we produced anyway – it is a conglomeration of images which can only result in normalization, and it serves interests through the purported ‘improvement’ of these images. Thus the true politicians are the image-makers, the manipulators, the conglomerators, those who have a hand in the creation of the image we tie our self to. The advertisers, the pollsters, the news agencies, the architects, the politicians, the heroes, the gods, who all produce customized and seductive images of our past as truth, while promising we can re-live it only better this time, who all promise that the environment can be made to look like the map – that the pretty picture can be made real, who all promise a ‘new’ strategy for overcoming difference and reverse-engineering time.