GSD Theory Lecture: Critical Mapping 2.0

Since 2005 Google has provided its users with new technological advantages through its powerful tool Google Maps (GM). New business models are growing on the basis of these maps, where GM is assisting in the establishment of a sharing economy with location based internet enabled platforms. Furthermore, with its Crisis Response projects, Google creates complex multimedia maps for people affected by natural disasters. These maps are interactive users can collaborate and share knowledge to help improve and save lives. GM is open. Everyone can create individualized maps and share location based knowledge as a free tool. Consequently, examples manifest, demonstrating the critical potential of web based maps regarding the change or manipulation of society and the experience of the urban fabric.

After ten years, it is time to investigate the motives and possibilities of GM. Moritz Ahlert, who designed and authored the maps of the »Berlin Atlas of Paradoxical Mobility«, (Merve Verlag Berlin, 2011), uses this project to elaborate on the method of the Atlas as well as the theoretical and practical dimensions of his current artistic research into critical mapping. How does the generation of profit through advertisement and the enforcement of Google’s omnipresence fit into its social impact? Can web 2.0 mapping services be harnessed for bottom-up and empowerment projects? What are the relationships between the new technologies of visualization, the generation of knowledge and online-mapping services, spanning to techniques of monitoring, control, regulation and the commercial use of information? How are issues of power and hierarchy distinguished comparing classical analog mapping techniques and the new forms taken by online maps?

Moritz Ahlert is an architect, approaching the areas of architecture, urban development and cartography through artistic research. He studied architecture at the UdK (University of the Arts) in Berlin. From 2013 to 2014 he was a research assistant for the DFG (German Research Foundation) research project »Urban Interventions« at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK) Hamburg, where since January 2015 he is a PhD candidate in the three year graduate program »Aesthetics of the Virtual«. He lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Ahlert is the author of several publications, most recently »Urbane Interventionen Istanbul« (Merve Verlag Berlin, 2014), which he also co-edited.

Sponsored by the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative.

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