Infoscience

Thesis

Penser (par) la carte: l'espace public et la marche à Mumbai et à Tokyo

What do Marine Drive and Shibuya have in common? Both the long promenade at the southern end of Mumbai, and the gigantic pedestrian crossing in the heart of the Japanese capital, are places where one walks. This thesis discusses places of convergence and of “seizing the world”, which are solely a product of walking. In their encounters through their presence in these places, individuals share this specific sensation of being urban and, by the virtue of it, belonging to the ever changing global society. If a pedestrian generates substance itself, unique for each city - its urbanity - this happens by the simple act of walking. He shapes space by crossing it. Walking is thus not a trivial act, but an enacted knowledge that is performed in a particular way and culturally determined. There is not one way of walking but different gaits, which we are questioning as profiles of walking through a novel cartographic approach. How can we map urbanity? How can we represent the intangible, the ephemeral, the singular? At the moment of global urbanisation, it is convenient to question oneself about the ways to inhabit this urbanity, and our modes of cohabitation. We propose new images to transform the map into a thought on urban space. By looking at walking as one of the necessary, as well as satisfying conditions for the publicness of space to occur, take the act of walking as a true metric to measure urbanity of global cities. The aim of this thesis is to propose cartographic alternatives to represent spaces of walking by liberating ourselves from euclidian cartography. Its language, unsuitable, would struggle with its incapacity of invention. The hypothesis at the basis of this intuition drifts from the “normal” map, searching for alternative paths of reinventing cartography. By relying on an anachronistic rereading of the history of cartography, three cosmographies - alike three cartographic othernesses - have been identified: that of Before (ancient maps), that of Elsewhere (non-Western maps) and that of contemporary artworks. We are assuming that an approach relying on an atlas - understood in the sense of Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne and developed in our web application @tlas - can be an appropriate method to create a space of comparison between these cartographies. From this heuristic process, we wish to reinvent cartography in order to bring movement into the map, if not put the map in movement. Inspired by the proxemic turn in cartography, with the help of chôrographies - seen as “maps of spatialities” - we reconsider the individual and privilege the chôros rather than the topos of use. From ethnographic observations of three profiles of mobility - the stroller, the passer by and the motile - in Mumbai and in Tokyo, the translation of these variations of walking into a map offers a view of Indian and Japanese urbanities, which underlines the volatility of public space and the contemporary reality of urban inhabiting modes. If production of images seems inherent to all sciences, we seek to make effective the possibility of thinking (by) the image through an iterative movement. From one side, it is about rethinking the map in order to map differently, in the light of contemporary cartographic challenges. On the other side, it is about mapping differently in order to rethink space, in urban circumstances that welcome its own challenges. By these images - witnesses of space as effectively lived - new urban readings are born. They serve to invent other inhabitable horizons. From the necessity to think up a cartography that is consistent with a new geographic reading of the world - ready to inform about the space of individuals and as much as to give shape to it - we are brought to ask ourselves about the cartographic process we initiated: how will these images enable us to conceive space, now?

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