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Mapping workshop: Three levels of Socially responsive communication

In the last blog post we have been discussing some aspects about mapping possibilities of socially responsive communication and the difference between such communications to (social) marketing.

Thanks for all the comments, i believe we are getting closer to a start of understanding what needs to be included in the concept of our workshop in a few months.

Experimental geography has inspiring aspects, especially the urge to go beyond specific disciplines and through its practice constitute a political discourse that questions the »how« in the perspective of social construction of reality. Not taking this reality for granted it seems to be interested in the very power relations that constitute what they call »space«. Here concepts of culture and society are included- especially the point that society and culture is in a inter-relational relation, meaning we produce and what we produce produces us. This is nothing new, but is a valuable point, which brings us close to what we (in my opinion) need to do.

This time i am posting about another group that works with maps. French conceptual artists Bureau d'études. http://bureaudetudes.org/
I got in touch with their work in 2003 through Brian Holmes who collaborated with Memefest for several years. http://brianholmes.wordpress.com/. Holmes had worked with the French group on several mapping projects.

Fascinating about these maps is that they are dealing with extremely complex issues of hidden reality. Huge investigations need to be made, extremely sophisticated use of strong theory needs to be employed together with artistic interpretation and activist imagination. They also deal with human relations and that's what is important for us.

When dealing with communication we need to know that we will have to focus on the image production aspect of it. This complicated things a lot. But…that is what makes it also highly interesting, right?

The image production within our society brings with it specific institutional relations or as Holmes might call it »existential territories«. These relations shape the production process and therefore also the outcome.
Next dimension we need to focus on are special mechanisms of evaluation through ideological institutions that control the production of legitimate frameworks through which value (what is perceived as good communication) is defined, created and rewarded. Third, as we have already discussed, a specific communication approach for solving social problems is mainly used- namely marketing. Although clearly not a solution, the problems with using such communication remain invisible.

So here are the main three dimensions i believe we need to deal with at the workshop:

Any other important dimensions you think we need to add? I suggest we discuss this first and then go to more concrete ways/dimensions in terms of how to approach them.

Ps: (It is true; we will focus on the visual aspect of socially responsive communication. Mainly for two reasons. First: the blind spots of imposed marketing ideology seem to be the biggest within the sphere of visual communication. Second: we need to narrow the subject of our research workshop if we want to have a chance to get good results in one week time.)

Pps: first two map images taken from Bureau d’ etudes. First one can be can be found here:


Comments [6]

There's a lot to consider in this- all good-

-but regarding the question of "anything else," I would suggest the need to look at scale and particular kinds of agency in varying groups at various steps in the "production/communication/evaluation" rubric.


yes, let's do it. i guess we will need to distinguish between agency within different institutionalized frameworks.

market: companies (ad agencies, design studios), non governmental institutions

non market: loose, semi loose networks with communication projects implemented in the public sphere

in between: communication/art projects manifested in galleries


There is the mapping and network aspect, but agency might also imply particular access points in the network to individuals and groups. Maps per se suggest a system, but there is a need to also consider the ability of groups and individuals to change or disrupt the "map"at strategic points.

It's a bit like game design.


maybe we will need to map the situation as it is AND map the situation as we think it should be. the disruptive aspect should be than mapped in the second one.

the problem with dominant communication/design profession is that it is robbed of it's ability to think about it's own conditions of existence and practice. we need to map existing conditions/power relations etc too. and than show the disruptive potentials...

what do you think?


Beyond the mapping process, which is no doubt interesting, my recent experience in AD agencies here in North America, has led me to think that we need to look very much at the social media landscape, because as it stands now, it is still a very contested territory.

The domination of the "image" is a moot point, and the creation of strategic and tactical counter-images is certainly important, but how these fit into a social communication (both marketing and otherwise) context, networks of information, is of extreme importance these days. The static image as sign is pretty irrelevant.


artistic interpretation holds no such contestation if approached with documentary clarity... for example, sign has no place in the recording of light documents, which in terms of rogue fugue style, also has communication value within the realm of all disciplines, applied or otherwise to humanities.

can you hear a sturgic~hue in this avatar?

...or smell its scent of joules upon a forum of hope?

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