International conference organised by Topological Atlas (UCL Urban Lab), with the Borders & Territories research group
Department of Architecture, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands 28-30 June 2023 and Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam
Deadline for submissions: 15th March 2023
In recent years, mapping and modelling have become key tools through which we understand spatial situations and are often also central to forms of intervention. While the practice of mapping has been thoroughly deconstructed, as can be discerned in the use of terms such as counter/radical cartography, counter mapping etc., within the realm of the digital many familiar problems have returned in a different guise, such as externalised reference points, immutable base maps, or simply our own unacknowledged presence. The digital realm also produces representations of worlds that are all encompassing, where paradigms of existence beyond the statistical, capitalist and imperial logic of the model are difficult to imagine (Galloway, 2014). Such technologies have enabled new forms of colonisation and are complicit in the ending of many lifeworlds. If we were to learn from indigenous thinkers that we live in ‘a world of many worlds’ (Cadena & Blaser, 2018) that are deeply entangled, how might this transform our practices of mapping and modelling to apprehend heterogeneous, material and situated worlds? What would an intensive practice of mapping look like? What might it mean to know the world through multiple reference points? If maps are tools that conceptualise ways of knowing and aid navigation, how might we produce them differently to help us place ourselves within multiple constellations?
A critical approach might not only analyse the modelled spaces of standards, practices and computational geometries, but would also deploy ‘agential cuts’ (Barad, 2007) through the extractive geometries of digital modelling to reveal thick surfaces for action and for alternative interpretations. How might we reimagine the practice of representation as a turn towards this thick surface that we always already inhabit, and how might we account for the ‘racialised assemblages’ and ‘heavy waves and vibrations’ (McKittrick & Weheliye, 2012) of life that run through it? To weave new worlds through such understandings, we need to pay equal attention to the binary tendencies of a certain practice of weaving (weft and warp) and also to the way weaving in many cultures is both the production of textile surfaces and the weaving of stories as (often) women sit together and speculate on alternative pasts and other futures. This means giving precedence to different ways of knowing the world, to other forms of intelligence, and a commitment to developing forms of practice that weave together what might be contradictory positions into future scenarios.
We invite researchers, scholars, activists, practitioners and artists to submit proposals for individual papers that address the above mentioned themes. In addition to academic paper contributions, we welcome other proposals in different formats and media: audio-visual material (film, video, photography), digital or physical archives, experimental design proposals, installations, performances, etc.
The conference explores the above ideas across three themes: Mapping thick surfaces; (Dis)entangling knots; Weaving worlds. Please find the extended call for contributions and details for submission on the website –