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The spaces of ‘Deep Mapping’: A partial account

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This article sets out an understanding of the emergent practices collectively referred to as ‘deep mapping’. It adopts Mike Pearson’s view that the optimal deep mapping takes ‘region as its optic’ (2006), while also recognizing the value of smaller-scale approaches. It draws on Kenneth Frampton’s Critical Regionalism to underpin deep mapping’s environmental and social dimensions and provide a productive counterpoint to its ethno-autographic element and its focus on a ‘militant particularism’ able to facilitate ‘the passage from memory to hope, from past to future’ (Harvey 1996). Critical Regionalism is taken here as a ‘post-disciplinary’ poetics that interweaves a multiplicity of ‘creative’ and ‘scientific’ material to enact, in the socio-geographical domain, John Wylie’s understanding that ‘landscape is tension’ (2007). Deep mapping is presented as offering a multidimensional understanding of place that enacts these tensions through our engagement with a second, specifically cultural, space-between, understood here as a metaxy. It is only in this space that we are able to put into practice Geraldine Finn’s insight that, while we cannot do without categorical thinking, ‘we are always both more and less than the categories that name and divide us’ (1996). The argument put forward here locates this active social space between the institutional worlds of art and of the university as that with which deep mapping specifically engages as a discrete practice. It posits that an ‘open’ deep mapping draws on the resources ‘managed’ by each institutional world so as to maintain a critical solicitude towards both professional worlds while remaining non-aligned with the presuppositions of either.
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Keywords: Critical Regionalism; deep mapping; essaying; institutions; metaxy; place

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of the West of England

Publication date: 06 June 2011

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  • The Journal of Arts and Communities seeks to provide a critical examination of the practices known as community or participatory arts, encompassing a field of work defined for this purpose as incorporating active creative ollaboration between artists and people in a range of communities.The journal will take a cross-artform and interdisciplinary approach,including work happening in performance, visual arts and media,writing, multimedia and collaboration involving digital technology and associated forms. In part this will create an archive that will document work which can otherwise be ephemeral
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