Jorge Luis Borges’ short story ‘On Exactitude in Science’ (1946) has been referred to innumerous times: it features a map that is repeatedly revisited and scaled up, until it becomes contiguous with its referent object (the territory) and effaces it. In this extreme cartographic project, the desire for a representational perfection leads to a description by duplication, which renders the map a useless ruin, and eventually condemns it to oblivion. Here, I am interested in particular in two readers of Borges: Jean Baudrillard’s (1994) exploration of a new order of simulation, and Louis Marin’s (1984)
discussion of the utopian nature of representation – or, more explicitly, of mapping. These readings provide grounds for examining the role of contemporary digitally produced urban representations in shaping experiences and perceptions of the city. From the banality of instantaneous social media images to the simulation of advanced modelling software, such images comprise representations that in their extreme exactitude inform but also compromise the reading of the urban.
Banou, S. (2018). Picture perfect: Maps and other measures of the contemporary city. lo Squaderno, 50, 7-12