Maps have incredible transformative powers, particularly in terms of spatial analysis, visualisation and in decision-making. As maps have become ever-more ubiquitous in both our professional and private lives, have the new tools and approaches changed the way we respond to and engage with spatial data?
Many disciplines are increasingly leveraging mapping within their own toolkits and practice, though most have over-looked the rich theoretical and historical basis of the discipline of cartography, creating solutions they believe to be new and unique when in fact previous examples can often be found originating decades earlier. Such is the result of the sound-bite and out-sourced knowledge of the modern world, where people happily don the suit of other disciplines, but are not interested in it’s historical and theoretical depths—and therefore fail to realise the real potential.
Is our relationship with mapping different now? To what extent is this a reflection of technology or new forms of representation and graphic communication? Are we seeing the evolution of new paradigms for the spatial and projective disciplines that realise a change for mapping within transdisciplinary modes of practice? These are questions that inform his personal research.
Originally conceived and founded in 2014 by Dr Mathew Emmett, David Littlefield and Jason Clark as a research vehicle to examine spaces which are behind, between, beneath or otherwise separated from normative spaces—those zones which are there, but forgotten, neglected or simply subservient—the liminal, the beyond, the uncanny, the elsewhere—the estranged.
Today, Estranged Space’s work, (re)defined and led by Dr Mathew Emmett and supported by Jason Clark, brings together the disciplines of cartography, graphic communication, architecture, art and multimedia performance in the exploration, creation and understanding of space. We work with a range of clients—site owners, developers, institutions—organisations who wish to subject spaces to closer examination, understanding and (re)interpretation. Our areas of interest include: mapping and perception, installation and projection, heritage and authenticity, and generative design and interaction.
We deploy a wide range of tools and techniques to explore the notions of perception, (re)interpretation, narrative, place and non-place. The practice has particular experience in site-responsive interventions in spaces which are contested, unsettling, hidden, lost, peripheral or displaced, but now extends this applied learning and research across a wider gamut that also concerns itself with the agency of mapping, the topologies of space, or the real and yet imagined worlds—the near and the elsewhere. Through spatial practice and interventions, we tell stories about places and spaces, encouraging new ways of understanding and reading space. We look for narratives within spaces and amplify them, re-present and re-frame them.
We embrace all formats of visual and audio communication, both established and new technologies and techniques. We also actively seek out new ways of applying technologies. We work as consultants, artists and designers across a range of experiences. Process is key to outcomes, which is revealed through our work—articles, insight, engagement, facilitation, workshops, teaching, strategic thinking, design systems and spatial research. Our practice is inherently collaborative and research-focused.