In 2018, Topotek 1 was invited to conduct a workshop at the RMIT Institute of Architecture and Urban Design in Melbourne. Professor Mark Jacques, Martin Rein-Cano and the students of the institute realized an urban intervention on a former industrial site, which in its methodological approach resembles a one-to-one mapping exercise that emerges around simple yet crucial questions: How do we approach a scene? How do we perceive it? And what can be done to achieve a better understanding of it?
From a historical perspective, humankind has always approached landscape through the medium of drawing. In traditional geography, the map was understood as a simplified image of the earth’s surface which, by recording spatial conditions, leads to a coherent, rational understanding of an area. The fact that many different people have drawn many different lines of sprayed chalk turns this intervention into an emotional process that cannot necessarily be rationalized. The resulting map resembles a communication medium that can be read and understood. Its elements are linear signs that highlight the surface like a text, giving us unmistakable information about the previously rather undervalued identity of the abandoned site.
The media processing of the intervention, in the form of aerial photographs and films taken by a drone, brings a familiar scale to the map. As seen from above, this picture creates an impact that has a retroactive effect on the perception of the place. In this way, the large-format abstract drawing helps to create a new “image” that is particularly relevant to its reception and its discourse.