[artinfo] Geocode of Media (conference in Siegen/BRD)

geert lovink geert at desk.nl
Tue Aug 15 19:31:34 CEST 2006

The Geocode of Media
A position definition of the spatial turn


Conference of the Project "Media Geography" at 
the Collaborative Research Center "Media 
Upheavals", University of Siegen, Germany

October 12th to 14th, 2006
   As demonstrated by Philosophy Atlas (Holenstein 
2004) or automotive navigation systems, geocoding 
enables the process of matching maps to a variety 
of other data information. Especially because of 
the freely accessible and (collaboratively) 
editable Google maps (mashups) at the hurricane 
disaster in the USA, the mapping of geographical 
data also gained public recognition in the media 
in 2005.

In particular during periods of crisis, there 
obviously exists a basic need for creating a 
stable point of communication via spatial 
representation (Kuhm 2003). GPS therefore no 
longer stands for a form of mobile communications 
technology alone, but more and more for spatial, 
dynamic surveillance, tracking, and navigation 

Mapping as the process of creating maps and the 
transformation of geographical data opens new 
perspectives for local search operations on the 
internet, as well as the physical exploration of 
space. The interactions of virtual and real space 
in "Augmented Reality" (Frieling 2004), or the 
recent trend game "geocaching", serve as an 
example of this.

These are only a few indications of the growing 
phenomenon of a new spatial paradigm, which 
meanwhile has become obvious: from social 
sciences to historical sciences, urban studies, 
art history to literary, cinematographic, and 
media science, debates are raging on the 
conceptualization of space, spatial practices and 
the so-called "spatiality" of discourses.

Even if there is no consensus yet on what to 
label this reversal - whether "topographical 
turn" (Weigel 2002), "spatial turn" (Schlögel 
2003) or "topological turn" (Günzel 2005) - the 
first steps in direction of a multidisciplinary 
discipline building process (approximately analog 
to science) already have been taken 
(Kessl/Reutlinger/Maurer/Frey 2005).

Just as clearly, however, criticism of this new 
paradigm is emerging already: decades of "spatial 
obliviousness" in cultural and social sciences 
seem to turn into a “spatial obsession" 
(Geppert/Jensen/Weinhold 2005), abusing space as 
a category for resubstantiation (Köster 2005). 
Only recently now, are professional geographers 
themselves - after having observed for a 
conspicuously long time the "cross-over" 
(Miggelbrink 2005) occurring in other disciplines 
- taking action to defend their particular 
spatial competence in the discipline against 
losing its status as a unique characteristic 
(Lippuner 2005).

It appears that the question no longer needs to 
be: do we need a new space paradigm? But rather: 
why does a space paradigm exist?

In view of this finding, it seems to be 
promising, if not even essential, to gather 
supporters as well as opponents of the spatial 
turn for a joint conference, to debate the 
advantages and disadvantages of the new space 
paradigm. Three central issues appear to be 
particularly promising:

  1) Is there any common ground for systemizing 
each individual scientific explanation of a 
"spatial turn"?

  2) What importances do / should the space 
concepts have in geography? So far, discussions 
between cultural and social scientists with 
professional geographers have been neglected. 
Why? Will the new space paradigm evolve without 
the involvement of geographers?

  3) How does the increased scientific concern 
with space relate to media relations? Can the new 
paradigm be seen as the reaction to a dictate, 
based on media influences, of the “disappearance 
of space" in view of the fundamental changes in 
communications due to digitalization? And, if 
yes, is this reaction already marked by 
characteristics of a hypercorrection?

Representatives of all disciplines currently 
subject to questions of space and spatiality are 
invited to participate in the discussion of these 
issues. We are looking for presentations not only 
oriented towards space theory or the history of 
paradigm, but that also demonstrate a material 
example from one's own space science research 
experience. In addition to hat, we are organizing 
professionals willing to serve as respondents to 
papers of each individual discipline. The 
conference itself will have a strong emphasis on 
debates, with equal time slots reserved for 
discussions and individual presentation.

Selected Literature:

  Frieling, Rudolf: The Archive, the Media, the Map and the Text. 2004.
Online available: http://www.medienkunstnetz.de, 2006.
  Geppert, Alexander/ Uffa Jensen / Jörg Weinhold 
(Eds.): Ortsgespräche. Raum und Kommunikation im 
19. und 20. Jahrhundert. Bielefeld 2005.
  Günzel, Stephan: Topologie. WeltRaumDenken. November 10, 2005.
Online available: http://www.geophilosophie.de, 2006.
  Holenstein, Elmar: Philosophie-Atlas. Orte und Wege des Denkens. Zürich 2004.
  Kessl, Fabian / Christian Reutlinger / Susanne 
Maurer / Oliver Frey (Eds.): Handbuch Sozialraum. 
Wiesbaden 2005
  Köster, Werner: Deutschland, 1900-2000: Der Raum 
als Kategorie der Resubstanzialisierung. Analysen 
zur deutschen Semantik und 
Wissenschaftsgeschichte. In: TopoGraphien der 
Moderne. Medien zur Repräsentation und 
Konstruktion von Räumen. München 2005, p. 25-72.
  Kuhm, Klaus: Telekommunikative Medien und 
Raumstrukturen der Kommunikation. In: Funken, 
Christiane / Martina Löw (Eds.): Raum - Zeit - 
Medialität. Interdisziplinäre Studien zu neuen 
Kommunikationstechnologien. Opladen 2003, p. 
  Lippuner, Roland: Raum - Systeme - Praktiken. 
Zum Verhältnis von Alltag, Wissenschaft und 
Geographie. Stuttgart 2005.
  Miggelbrink, Judith: Die (Un-)Ordnung des 
Raumes. Bemerkungen zum Wandel geographischer 
Raumkonzepte im ausgehenden 20. Jahrhundert. In: 
Geppert, Alexander/ Uffa Jensen / Jörg Weinhold 
(Eds.): Ortsgespräche. Raum und Kommunikation im 
19. und 20. Jahrhundert. Bielefeld 2005, p. 
  Schlögel, Karl: Im Raume lesen wir die Zeit. 
Über Zivilisationsgeschichte und Geopolitik. 
München 2003.
  Weigel, Sigrid: Zum ’topographical turn'. 
Kartographie, Topographie und Raumkonzepte in den 
Kulturwissenschaften. In: Kulturpoetik 2 (2002), 
p. 151-165.

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