Mapping Globalization: A Conversation
December 26, 2009, 5:10 PM
Filed under: Interface | Tags:

I’ve recently published a paper with cartographer Sebastien Caquard in the Art & Cartography special issue of The Cartographic Journal. Here’s a description:

Mapping Globalization: A Conversation between a Filmmaker and a Cartographer
This paper is an edited version of a written dialogue that took place between the fall of 2008 and the summer of 2009 between a filmmaker (Amelia Bryne) and a cartographer (Sebastien Caquard) around the issue of representing globalization. In these conversations, we define some of the key means for representing globalization in both mapmaking and filmmaking discussing local/global, strategic/tactical, data/narrative and unique/multiple perspectives. We conclude by emphasizing the potential impact of new media in ushering in hybrid digital products that merge means of representation traditional to filmmaking and cartography.

It begins …

SC. Why would a filmmaker like you involved in exploring globalization through film be interested in maps and cartography?

AB. In my view cartography and cinema have a similar problem at heart: how can we represent the world in a meaningful and engaging way? These representations can be made with many kinds of information – fragments of the world – including information in the form of scientific data, or about spatial and temporal relationships, cultural practices, and even individual perceptions or emotions. These two disciplines seemingly address the challenge of constructing representations of the world from different angles, and I am interested in exploring them. More specifically, I am interested in exploring how the combination of these two practices could be complementary in terms of understanding and representing globalization, which is a significant focus of the work of many contemporary filmmakers, including myself.

SC. So, you are interested in cartography as a domain that could help you to better represent globalization in your films. Could you elaborate a bit?

AB. My desire to represent globalization is perhaps my way of saying that I want to find ways of making sense of what is happening in the world today, and I think that cartography might be able to help me do that. Globalization is a name for a collection of phenomena that characterize and influence contemporary politics, business and everyday life. Globalization operates at multiple scales, from the personal to the global, and impacts both humans and our environment. It spans issues ranging from the influence of transnational organisations, to global labour and global capital movements, to deregulation and privatisation, oil, scarce resources, intellectual property rights, China, containerized shipping, export processing zones, and anti-globalization movements (Zaniello, 2007, p. 2). Globalization and its associated flows of capital, people, and objects is challenging to make sense of. It challenges traditional forms of representation and resistance (Jameson, 1991).

Film theorist Holly Willis suggests an explicit connection between films and maps in the context of globalization. She frames films as a type of ‘map’ that may be able to capture the increasing complexity of the world in a different way than more literal cartographic representations. This desire for alternative or hybrid forms of mapping stems from a dilemma of representation: ‘How do you ‘‘map’’ a global economy, a vast military industrial complex, or the convergence of gigantic corporations? How do you chart multinational banking and stock exchanges, or the increasingly powerful web of bureaucratic control?’ (Willis, 2005, pp. 74–75). Those are the questions I hope cartography could help me to address. Maybe, as Willis suggests, filmmaking and cartography could be helpful to each other.

Etc …


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