Home Towards a subjective collective cartography



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In a first stage, the floor was given to 9 artists of various fields, active in the city during these last years. Everyone interpreted in their own way the terms "subjective cartography" and "urban interventions". Their work was then the subject of an exhibition spread all over Recyclart, collection of places, actions and events.

Invited artists:
- Nathalie Mertens _ Illustrated spatiotemporal inventory of Bruxel.
- Nedjma Hadj_ «Videomap», result of an assembly of various filmed places and of the interviews of some inhabitants from Brussels met within the framework of the project.
- Kathleen Mertens_ Cartography of urban interventions in public spaces. - Rival_ Cartography of grafs.
- Tiziano Lavoratornovi_ Subjective cartography of the numerous connections between various collectives and cultural/activist associations in Brussels
- Benoit Deuxant and Harrisson_ Cartography of the concert halls which marked Brussels, 1995-2005.
- Agency_ Cartography of the «quasi things».
- Syndicat d’initiatives_ Cartography of urban struggles and space conquests.



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The workshop brought together students from several artistic schools of Brussels and Sheffield. The aim was to carry out - in group and supervised by an artist - a subjective cartography of Brussels. The students were confronted with another way of considering the city, with a questioning on the stakes of cartography and, more technically, with the question of cartographic representation of subjective data.

- La Cambre (architecture and graphics)
- École de Recherche Graphique (ERG)
- Sint-Lucas Architectuur
- Académie des Beaux Arts de Bruxelles
- Sheffield School of Architecture

Theoretical contributions:
- Nicolas Malevé (Constant)
- Pierre Huyghebaert (Speculoos)

- Nathalie Mertens_ Illustrated spatiotemporal inventory of Bruxel.
- Jérôme Giller_ About the concepts of «dérive» (according to Debord) and of psychogeography (according to Gilles Ivain).
- Laïa Sadurni (RotoR)_ About the concept of «dérive».
- Stéphanie Regnier (Syndicat d’initiatives)_ Reflection on a neighborhood as an ecosystem.

Round-table conference - Image of Brussels


This debate gathered together actors of the tourist, cultural and planning sectors around the theme of the European image of Brussels. The contributions of Recyclart and City Mine(d) brought to light a more subjective and sensitive vision of Brussels.


A map for a coffee!

3–4/03/2007_Place Liedts.

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photos du we 3-4 mars place liedts

On the occasion of brxl BRAVO, the team of the TOWARDS project organized a gathering of "subjective" maps, in order to complete their atlas of Brussels. Cartographers of all kinds were invited to give a map which tells Brussels "differently", in exchange of a tea or a coffee. At the same time, people who wished it had the possibility to take part in the realization of a map of the networks of mutual aid around the Place Liedts (Schaerbeek) or to collaborate in the execution of an emotional map of the neighborhood (biomapping).

- City Mine(d) (www.citymined.org)
- Recyclart (www.recyclart.be)
- Christian Nold (www.biomapping.net)

Cartographic Worksession #1


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F. Snelting

Organized within the framework of the PEPRAV network(European Platform for alternative Practice and Research on the City), this workshop aimed to make first step to design the Tresor software, a tool for subjective and collaborative mapping. The participants – cartographers (professional or amateur), computer specialists, graphic designers, artists and architects- exchanged ideas and practices from their personal approach of mapping and thought about the possibility of creating a software that would allow connecting different kinds of maps and about the specifications that would be necessary to the making of that software as well as about the working and the visual aspect of its interface.

- Nicolas Malevé (Constant) et Pierre Huyghebaert (Speculoos) _ Interfaces of cartographic softwares.
- Véronique Linard (City Mine(d))_ Presentation of collected maps.
- Femke Snelting (Constant)_ What is an interface ?

- Anne-Lise Dehée
- Sofie Van Bruystegem (Citymine(d))
- Constantin Petcou (AAA)
- Nishat Awan
- Laïa Sadurni (RotoR)
- Pieter Heremans
- Kobe Matthys
- Harrisson
- Femke Snelting (Constant)
- Pierre Huyghebaert (Speculoos)
- Véronique Linard (Citymine(d))
- Laurence Jenard (Recyclart)
- Lapeg
- Jeremy Tartour (AAA)
- Bettina Knaup
- Laurence Rassel (Constant)
- Doina Petrescu (AAA)
- Kobe Lootens

* non-exhaustive list

Cartographic worksession #2

05-06/07/2007_Nepomuk- Rue Saint Jean Népomucène, 17-1000 Bruxelles.

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Photos: Lapeg

Following the first session of cartographic work, the participants were invited to collaborate to the carrying out of ongoing maps, to attend short presentations or demos, to think about the language of visual interfaces for cartographic representations and to participate to the development of a component that would allow the linking of several free softwares.

- Laïa Sadurni (RotoR)_ La Maison de la participation à Anderlecht: Network and territorial cartographies.
- Anne Lise Dehée_ Gare Chapelle, Paris : what cannot be shown.
- Benoît Moritz (MSA)_ Bruxelles: The hypothesis of the second phase of urbanism in Brussels.
- Nishat Awan _ Londres - Relational maps of how people occupy spaces; subjective experiences.

- Peter Westenberg_Balades aux frontières de Molenbeek / Molenbeek Borderwalk.
- Benjamin Henrion (OSM)_ European legislation on the access to geospatial data.
- Philippe Rekacewicz (le Monde diplomatique)_ Cartographical visions.
- Anne-Laure Buisson_ Statistical softwares and graphic interfaces.

- Anne-Lise Dehée
- Constantin Petcou (AAA)
- Nishat Awan
- Laïa Sadurni (RotoR)
- Pieter Heremans
- Kobe Matthys
- Harrisson
- Femke Snelting (Constant)
- Pierre Huyghebaert (Speculoos)
- Véronique Linard (City Mine(d))
- Laurence Jenard (Recyclart)
- Lapeg
- Bettina Knaup
- Doina Petrescu (AAA)
- Kobe Lootens
- Stefan De Corte (VUB – Cosmopolis)
- Wendy Van Wynsberghe (Constant)

* non-exhaustive list.


Public Lectures on post/colonial mappings (From/To Europe #4)_06/07/2007_K.V.S.

Centered on the question of post-colonial maps, Euromaps proposed contributions which discuss the "fashion" of mapping within the art context and provided some examples of "reflexive" practices.

- Jochen Becker (metroZones)_ Introduction tothe question of post/colonial conditions of mapping.

- Peter Spillmann_ MigMaps : A Virtual Cartography of European Migration Policies.
Peter Spillmann (artist, Zurich) speaked about the history of critique on mappings as well as presenting the collaborative MigMap. This web-based project conveys a picture of how and where the production of knowledge is currently taking place in the area of migration – and of who is participating in and has access to it. MigMap investigates how the new forms of supranational governance, which can be observed in the European migration regime, function: How European standards in politics and civil society are implemented.

- Dierk Schmidt_ The Division of Earth : Berlin «Kongo Konferenz» and the «Kiepert map».
Dierk Schmidt (artist, Berlin) focused on the Berlin-Africa „Congo conference“ in 1884/85. This business meeting of the European nations, triggered by the Belgian King Leopold II, divided the african continent in a ruler-like manner and established the „Berlin borders“, which determine the nation states within the African continent until today. „Unlike 19th-century historical painting that offers striking physical poses, this 21st-century form of historical painting explores the abstractions of the diplomats“, so The Brunei Times on Dierk Schmidt’s documenta-exhibition.

- Sabine Müller (SMAQ architects)_ Congo Maps : Layered representations.
Sabine Müller (architect, Berlin) researched different maps in the Congo region of Kinshasa/Brazzaville. She multi-layered all the maps she could find – from colonial scetches to Google Earth, from car to hotel maps, and from UN carthography to satellite pictures. The research was part of the project ‚BRAKIN Brazzaville Kinshasa – Visulizing the Visible’, published by Lars Müller Publishers and the Jan van Eyck Academie.

EuroMaps is organised by Recyclart within the Culture 2000 project framework of PEPRAV (Plate-forme Européenne de Pratiques et Recherches Alternatives de la Ville | European Platform for Alternative Practice and Research on the City).

OSM Party Brussels

16/09/2007_ Brussels.

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The aim of this day was to collect GPS tracks of Brussels and to add them to the database of openstreetmap.org., an interface that produces detailed maps that can be freely published, used to create portable navigation systems, carted away or printed and copied without any restrictions. The participants covered therefore the streets of the Pentagon in order to record these GPS tracks and helped to download them on the OSM server.

- Constant


What is OSM?

OpenStreetMap (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org) is a Free map of the world,
made by people like you and me. "OpenStreetMap is a project aimed squarely
at creating and providing free geographical data such as street maps to
anyone who wants them."

Why OSM?

"The project was started because most maps you think of as free actually
have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people
from using them in creative, productive or unexpected ways."

How does it work?

Contributors to the OpenStreetMap project take their GPS device on their
journeys or go off on organised GPS tracing events. They register names of
streets and villages and all other characteristics using a pen and paper,
a photo device or dictaphone.
Back behind their computers, they upload their GPS trace they made during
their voyage and trust their routes to the collaborative database of
OpenStreetMap. Using their notes, the contributors add streetnames and
info about the type of route or path and connections.
The data is then treated to produce detailed maps, which can be published
on sites such as Wikipedia, which can be used to create portable,
embedded, printed navigation systems which can be copied without limits.

More info?

Read the FAQ on the wiki:

Public Works

23/01/2008_Stanley Picker Gallery (London).

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Public works, City Mine(d), Dorian Moore, Towards and Christian Nold
are holding a round table on the role of cartography in their work.
The participants share a quest for ways to collect and re-distribute
information directly from users of urban space, but differ in the
instruments they use - from pencil and paper to state of the art
technology- ; the way they treat their outcomes – from barely archiving to
glossy publications -; and the aims they have with this work - revealing
subjective knowledge or informing a further process.

See: http://www.publicworksgroup.net/

More info about the Public works residence:

The round table is an occasion to discuss these different ways of working
next to each other. Conclusions have been compiled into the following essay:

Mapping in the work of City Mine(d)

Cartography probably conjures up images of Ordnance Survey engineers with theodolites in inhospitable parts of the Scottish Highlands mapping out the King’s realm. Though a political act in itself, this endeavour to represent the world was not necessarily a force for good. When it comes to mapping out the colonial empire, cartography really becomes a cause for concern. How then can mapping be turned into that force for good?

Cartography as the combination of art, science and technology has become a chosen instrument for a wide variety of urban artists, activists and intervenors. For various reasons and in various ways they aim to represent a social or political reality in a two-dimensional way. In the discussion Public Works organised in the Stanley Picker gallery on 23 January 2008, four ways of representing the urban environment stood out from the rest: geographic –through a raster referring to the earth’s flat surface; photographic –taking a snapshot of reality; diagrammatic –where the relation from one point to the other is what matters; and narrative –description through a sequence of places or facts. Different practitioners use various ways to extract data –a container concept for local knowledge, experience, convictions and histories- from users, residents, campaigners or decision makers. But how can this type of mapping become political?

First of all as a tool for expression. By making things visible, they come more fiercely into being and can enter into the public consciousness. Mapping can not only allow people to express themselves creatively, but it can also become a channel through which their political opinion can be made heard.
City Mine(d)’s publication of the MapRAC newspaper in March 2004 was a way for a number of interest groups to have their voice heard in the planned redevelopment of a 6 hectare Modernist Complex. Maprac brought together all stakeholders, from local resident over urban planner to civil servant and real estate developer, to make a state of affairs of risks and potentials. The result was published in a tabloid newspaper, and was distributed for free throughout Brussels. While the making of the map was an opportunity to bring interested parties around the table, the publication and distribution of the map raised public awareness about the imminent redevelopment of the site.

Secondly, as an initiation into new technology. Sophisticated devices allow for a quick registration and processing of data, yet their rapid evolution makes it increasingly difficult for the technologically illiterate to catch up or find a way in. Making a representation of the own living environment in these cases provides a good opportunity to combine exploration of built environment and new technology.
In the Spring of 2007 City Mine(d) organised a series of workshops in the Tottenham area of North London. In a place recovering from decades of neglect, a group of 11 year old were trained to use digital camera’s, sound recording equipment, drawing and online maps to investigate their local area. At the end of the workshop the children presented their future ideas for the park in the area, and were familiar with Flickr, Audacity and Google Earth.

Thirdly, as a way to challenge the dominant discourse. Since groups in power are also the ones who produce and spread the imagery of a city, it is a dominant discourse that gets reproduced. Efforts to also bring alternative or subjective maps of a city on the public radar are a powerful way to question the validity of that dominant discourse.
In the project Towards, Constant and City Mine(d) are currently developing an Atlas of Brussels, representing various maps (real, imaginary, artistic, anecdotic, emotional, geographical, urbanistic, amateur, professional, regional, local, and so on). The atlas collects and presents different visions of Brussels, and in doing so distorts the image of Brussels as the Capital of Europe at the heart of the high speed train network presented by the powers that be.

These are but 3 ways mapping can become a political instruments. There must be others, but these are the ones used in the works of City Mine(d). For City Mine(d) mapping often is not an end to itself, but rather a means to collect and connect with local residents and users of space. It fits into a process that leads up to interventions in public space and to the reshuffling of the power structures that shape that public space.

Mapping me / Mapping you

April 25, 18:00 - 20:00, in Recyclart

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An and Julianne performing sudo

A roundtable meeting about cartography between An Mertens (and other members of
Saturdays, Woman and Free Software)
, Liesbeth Huybrechts (Cultural studies PHD KuLeuven, researcher, curator),
Nicolas Malevé (Tresor software, Towards.be) and
Peter Westenberg (Routes + Routines) investigating GEO data control, different layers
and perspectives on the art of mapping, subjective cartographic perception and /Home as private territory.

  • w h e n : April 25, 18:00 - 20:00
  • l o c a t i o n : Recyclart, GARE BRUXELLES-CHAPELLE, Rue des Ursulines 25, Brussels


Busboîtescartesmaps is an event in the framework of the Towards project that combines subjective representations of the Brussels’ terrain which the development of a software for subjective cartography. Also inspired by the experiences springing from the Routes + Routines series of explorative performative walks, that take us to unexpected corners of the Brussels region.

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Post boxes are a familier repetitive phenomenon in the urban landscape. Even when postoffices become privatised and disappear, these boxes remain firmly planted in the urban soil. Busboîtescartesmaps invites us to validate these entities as more than just utilitarian tools. Drifting from one box to another, the walks propose to climb them, to explore their musical qualities, to listen to the stories that echoe from their interiors.
Among other things the walks contribute to a collective mapping in which the trace of one walk echoes the existence of other walks. You can participate in the walks starting from Recyclart, where also the communal map can be consulted, and also the Atlas of subjective and collaborative maps of Brussels.

Your guides :

Peter Westenberg is visual artist, videomaker and member of Constant. He works onsocial cartographies, urban anomalies and complexity of identity and geography.

Christina Clar and Natasha Roublov are artists based in Brussels, moving between performance, events, installations and urban interventions focussing on the meeting points between sound, visuals and architecture.

Lottie Child is a British artist who produces Street Training Manuals for playful/antisocial engagement with urban places exchanging expertise and knowledge on the notions of safety and joy in increasingly sanitized and controlled urban places. Research is wandering, talking, thinking; and intervention might include climbing, penetrating, playing with, nurturing, and/or pissing on encountered boundaries - physical, mental and social. "In Brussels I will engage with interested people to create a StreetTraining circuit featuring the joyful behaviours Belgian street users employ and those we innovate together during an initial session."

Busboîtescartesmaps est a project of the association Constant in collaboration with
Recyclart and Speculoos, Jeugd en Stad, Yota! and Beam. Also with the participation of Rafaella Houlstan-Hasaerts.

Hours of the walks
Two walks per day, with a aximum of 10 participants per walk on 4, 5 and 6 november.

Departures at 14:00 and 17:00, starting paoint Recyclart

The communal carts of l’Atlas are on show from 14:00 to 18:00 at Recyclart

More information on the project: