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Mick Abbott, Department of Design Studies


Wild cartographies: investigating a phenomenological mapping of wilderness landscapes


Archway 2 - 1:00 pm, Friday 14 September


This talk argues that how landscape is understood and managed is heavily influenced by the agency of topographic cartography. This theme is explored by a study of New Zealand's conservation estate.

It compares different conceptualizations of wilderness from early and recent cartography of Southern Fiordland. It finds that certain cartographic tropes, including 'Wilderness Perception Mapping' studies, privilege the construction of the contemporary wilderness idea as unspoilt, remote, contained, threatened and culturally empty at the expense of other qualities including participation and performance.

It then attempts to explore alternative cartographic representations of wilderness with a particular emphasis on a phenomenological engagement of landscape. Instead of tracing a route followed onto a uniform spatial scale the reverse is attempted. Intervals of time taken along a route are described according to a fixed scale made up of days and hours rather than miles and yards. Then a topographic representation is subsequently morphed to match these varying rates of travel. The resulting cartographic representation, particularly as subsequent journeys are overlaid, suggests a temporal dimension that is as folded, refolded and contorted as the physically undulating terrain upon which such journeys are made.

Last modified: Thursday, 28-Jul-2005 17:23:30 NZST

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