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5.3.1 Shortfalls of Kumu Mapping

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari declare: ‘Make a map not a tracing!’. . . What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real… The map has to do with performance, whereas the tracing always involves an ‘alleged competence.’

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in James Corner, Agency of Mapping; Speculation, Critique and Invention
(Corner, 2011, p.213).

The spatial mappings for Urban Seascaping could have done more to portray the marine realm with less focus on terrestrial depictions. This imbalance is due to the abundance of land-based GIS data (itself an example of terrestrial bias) but comparatively very little data on water, making it difficult to represent it on the map. Therefore, I also struggled to depart from depicting the boundary between city and sea as a line and water as an abstract flat plane with a limited portrayal of what is underneath the surface of the sea. Moreover, the findings indicated that Vejle fjord is largely a dark, murky, empty and muddy desert (refer to Figure 8, section 1.4.1) (Fjeldsø Christensen, 2021). The dilemma was whether to represent in a section to show the majority of the fjord that is uniformly lifeless and dark or whether the screenshots of the video provided by the Sund Vejle Fjord project would suffice. On the contrary, for future potential projections of implementing marine nature-based solutions in Vejle, I was hesitant to represent seaweed in a manner that could be too aesthetically pleasing[269] (refer to see Figure 170, section 4.2.2) and risk romanticising marine nature and mislead the public’s expectations. I also struggled with my lack of visualisation skills to achieve this “balance” successfully - the balancing act between doing it justice to represent marine life (i.e. seaweed) accurately and imaginatively as possible while avoiding depictions of overt romanticisation that is radically different from the dire condition it is in now.

    Furthermore, I re-used some of the maps available from various sources without recreating/reappropriating[270] them, reinstating some of the maps I critiqued for their limitations in section 2.2.2. I also wanted to ensure that these maps are somewhat “legible” for practitioners and municipal members by keeping it an incremental step forward development rather than something more radical or exemplary. Regardless, more boundaries could have been pushed with the spatial visualisations and the maps that could have departed from the current normative practices[271] (i.e. “Make a map, not a tracing!”). Other visual explorations I did not explore further were the use of films (audio-visual), 3D modelling/renderings and collages (i.e. dry seaweed pressings that I did in Figure 19, section 1.5.2). These methods could have reaped a different outlook that might aid the analysis and help visualise more imaginative visions of the constantly changing marine world. Also, since collaborative and transdisciplinary forms of mapping are emerging and evolving (such as Kumu mapping, the Feral atlas or qualitative GIS), there may be more possibilities for LUDP practitioners to engage with many different mediums of mapping in the future. Thus, in the end, the Kumu mapping contribution focussed more on the curatorial and organisational aspects of the interconnections between scale, time frames and S-O-T-A projects around the world rather than challenging the spatial mapping/visualisations itself. However, curating these networks was a double-edged sword in that while I used Kumu to structure the entangled mesh, it can still risk being too complex for some users, limiting its full potential for a wider audience. Ultimately, Kumu served more useful as a research tool/method for me and as the sole navigator to disseminate findings rather than a universal tool. Furthermore, I did not make full use of Kumu’s analytical capacities as software[272] due to my limited skills (coding).

    Moreover, translating the interactive nature of Kumu and reducing its complexities into a static A4 format was also limiting and reductive. However, working across scales, timeframes and disciplines with the mapping helped me understand how these interconnections worked and uncover hidden aspects that led to new queries. The Kumu map is essentially an exercise in deciphering the complexity of a relational structure between maps but, most importantly, to enable a complex cartographic conversation.


[269] Danish marine nature is not as visually enticing to humans compared to the tropics; therefore, I suspect it would require certain levels of sensitivity to pay attention and appreciate less fantastical forms of marine nature. However, the before and after depictions of going from a marine dead zone to a flourishing bed of mussels, seaweed and eelgrass could enable people to appreciate that life below the sea can also flourish with interventions such as stone reefs.

[270] Many of the spatial mappings were reused from existing data available from GIS and other sources rather than spending time to make them look more “aesthetically” unified. I made this decision because I thought that telling the overall story and the interconnections was more effective than recreating what had already been done.

[271] Nevertheless, I did engage in some attempts to incorporate different ways of depicting the water and the marine life forms, as shown in depicting the water bodies as blood vessels in Figure 38.

[272] For instance, the Kumu nodes can be free-flowing, thus, by assigning certain parameters, the nodes can move and cluster around in different categories. The sizes of the nodes can also change based on certain parameters (i.e. popularity of connections), and Kumu can reveal, track and analyse different capacities of nodes, depending on the parameters. It can be used to run fairly complex analyses (Kumu INC, 2011).



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