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Cognitive Mapping by Frederic Jameson

EVDA 621: Introduction to Design Theories

Critical Evaluation by Sumer Matharu (10047835), 25 Oct 2016

The reading Cognitive Mapping by Frederic Jameson aims to illustrate three different
models of economic systems that the known civilization has been through, in the context
of creating a mental map for the basis of artistic expression in Architecture and Design.
The author provides a very objective and Marxist viewpoint on making us understand
capital systems. From the classical grid system to imperialization and then finally to the
current multinational system, we are living in a globally dominantly capitalist system
[pg.249]. This system is axiomatically driven by the motive of profit and the logic of capital
accumulation and this is considered to have become the fundamental law of the economic
world [pg. 260]. In another instance, the author mentions ..these forms, whose content
is generally that of privatized middle-class life, nonetheless stand as symptoms and
distorted expressions of the penetration even of middle-class lived experience by this
strange new global relativity of colonial network. The one is then the figure, however
deformed and symbolically rewritten, of the latter; and I take it that this figural process will
remain central in all later attempts to restructure the form of the work of art to
accommodate content that must radically resist and escape artistic figuration. [pg.253]
In another instance, the author states that even though we may perceive the
phenomenological experience of the individual subject traditionally, the supreme raw
materials of the work of art, [pg.252] it does not really exist in the same place anymore.
Rather, it is in a different time altogether. This creation of a model for artistic expression
seems to be lagging behind. The question that arises here is that even if we currently
describe a model for aestheticism or artistic expression based on the cognitive mapping
of the current capitalistic system, how does it provide for the allowance or evolution of the
same when the capitalistic system changes?

Frederic Jameson, Cognitive Mapping, in the Jameson Reader, ed. Michael Hardt and
Kathi Weeks, Blackwell Publishing, Malden, 2000, pp. 277-87. ISBN: 978-0631202707