Cartographies of Hydrology

Cartographies of Hydrology is an advanced representation course. The course begins from the premise that mapping is a \’tactical enterprise\’ and builds upon James Corner\’s notion of the \’agency of mapping\’ (Corner 1999) in the creation of new cartographic tools. Mapping is always subjective-never neutral-and both what is drawn and the manner in which qualitative, quantitative and geographical information and documentation is framed, scaled, gathered, reworked and assembled is a highly creative act. Far beyond mere description acting as a mirror to reality, interpretative mapping-often comprising of dense collages with diagrams, maps, photographs, quantitative data, etc. reduces to an essence, reveals hidden potentials, discloses conditions for the emergence of new realities.

Cartographies of Hydrology will explore the means of representing cross-scalar systems and logics-from large-scale regions and territories (watersheds) to the natural and man-made systems of waterways, dikes, sluices, pump stations, embankments, etc. Ultimately, the aim of such mappings and cartographies is to distil intrinsic logics and latent potentials and create new synergies between interdependent systems that (re)balance ecology, economy and socio-cultural values.

The course will produce a publication of interpretative cartographies of Boston Harbor that trace the layered narratives of the landscape, its contested territories, mapped realities and eventually what if scenarios that offer resilience in the face of contemporary challenges.

Format: The seminar has 3 components

1] Weekly 2-hour lecture/ discussion sessions on cartographic concepts that focuses on the global legacy of interpretative mapping\’s inherent capacity to (re)read and (re)write potentials in the interplay between water and urbanization logics of territories. Each week will explore a different case study city/region to reveal different cartographic methods and how they reflect and the socio-cultural specificity of the locale. The course will also have session of invited guest lecturers. Punctual sessions will be used for larger discussion sessions (based on a literature review) and presentations by students work-in-progress.

2] Bi-weekly 2-hour workshops on cartographic tools that provide a platform for exploration of advanced visualization techniques, with an emphasis on time-based media. Exercises covered in sessions will align with themes introduced in lecture and discussion, and aim to expand and amplify student-driven independent research work. Topics include:

1. Motion Graphics to animate aerial maps, historical photographs, and dynamic processes (in Photoshop, After Effects).

2. Contour and 3D topographic slope analysis to reflect direction and velocity of water flow, zones of collection, and the effects of changing water levels (in Rhino, Rhino Grasshopper).

3. Data Visualization of static and dynamic content, such as Google Earth image analysis, recorded datasets, and real-time data feeds (in Processing).

Software Covered: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Processing, Rhino, Rhino Grasshopper

3] An intensive mapping exercise that combines a wide range of tools and techniques in contemporary digital platforms with archival research and fieldwork methods, centered on the topical issue of the predictions of climate change and rising sea level in the Boston Harbor. The last session of the course will have a final review of the work.

The course is open to students from architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and planning and civil engineering; a mix of students would be desirable. There are no pre-requisites for the course. The course will be limited to 15 students.