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Chorogoraphy and Issues of Tailored Geographies - Lucia Nuti & Edward Casey Illustrated notes Ray Lucas Feb

2009 Lucis Nutis essay in the collection Mappings (Cosgrove Ed.) goes by the title Mapping Places: Chorography and Vision in the Renaissance. The paper is a look at the history of city representations, with a particular focus on the issue of Chorography, perhaps reclaiming this term as something usefully different to, rather than inferior to geography. The superiority of geography over chorography, that is the superiority of intellectual and mathematical over pictorial and sensual knowledge, was commonly and consensually acknowledged Nuti 1999:91 This is traced through architectural representations, such as the opinions of Alberti on the matter. Alberti warns the architect not to apply himself to the world of vision and not to entrust his design to pictorial language by using foreshortening. He dismisses pictorial representations as appealing to the eye, but deceptive for correct communication: ...Without any regard to the Shades... Nuti 1999:91 One crucial issue arises: the target of the representation, in this case, what aspect of humanity is the drawing designed to appeal to: Human intellect is held to be the addressee of the architects drawings, not the human eye. Nuti 1999:91 It is therefore recognised that the observer of the inscription is a factor in its interpretation, and that there is an appeal to different aspects of that gaze. The purely pictorial is set aside in favour of the cognitive aspect of the drawing: It is a thinking tool, to be considered as a set of co-ordinates and relations rather than a depiction of space. The accepted superiority of mathematical representation lay in its being absolute, abstract and total. Chorography could offer only subjective records of ephemeral reality. 1999:99 The classic opposition of objective and subjective representations comes into play in this respect. Chorographic approaches are subjective and as such may be more appropriate for our project, given the contingent, contextual nature of the data we are gathering and our intention to record and describe the experience of everyday life in Jakarta. The Italian artist abandoned the search for an elevated point from which to view the town and started working on a ground plan in his studio... ...as the most faithful portrait of a town, because it fullled all the needs and expectations of contemporary culture. 1999:100 (my emphasis).

The desire to overcome the limits and subjectivity of sense knowledge developed in different directions... ...on the one hand it determined a general move towards the expulsion of pictorial language from every kind of map; on the other it fuelled the search for an image capable of expressing totality within the eld of vision, the panoramic, all-embracing view of the divine eye. 1999:108. The relationship between the abstract and the concrete, the mathematical and the visual... ... is still both present and problematic. 1999:108. Despite a common commitment to description and spatiality (rather than to narration and temporality), to imagistic representation and pure pictoriality, to vivid appearance and mirrorlike reection, there remains one decisive difference between maps and paintings. This is that maps represent places for the most part incidentallyfor example, in the literally topographical images on their marginswhereas landscape paintings represent places centrally and essentially. In Ptolemaean nomenclature, maps mainly belong to geography, which is largely indifferent to place, while paintings belong to chorography, which is devoted to the description of place. Casey 2002:166. In dealing with chorography, Edward Casey, in his the third volume of his extended study of space and place contrasts the map and the landscape painting. Does this, then, suggest an alliance between our project and landscape painting rather than cartography? Casey has recourse to ideas of scale and detail in this regard, considering the landscape painting as a detailed snapshot of a part of the larger unit described by geography. Tracing the root of landscape back to a term meaning the shape of the land, a geometric ambition is expressed for the landscape painting: This suggest that the chorography of places as it is realized in landscape painting is concerned with the morphology of these places, their shapefulness. Casey 2002:168 An alternative geometry is suggested by this shaping of place, chorographic shapes need not be precisely traced, nor are they prexed or measurable as such (2002:168). This maps an interesting territory for our project, as the narrative rejected by Casey is an integral element in our study. As is movement and temporality. Identifying too strongly with a landscape tradition, with its central conceit of xedness and permanence, is problematic. This is not to reject all that is offered by chorology, however, as this more focused and alternative form of geometry is entirely in tune with our intentions.