Urban Media Archaeology

Fall 2013
Shannon Mattern Rory Solomon

Mapping Media
Disciplinary Tendency to Focus on Content, on Representation


Via Alien Loves Predator: http://alienlovespredator.com/2011/05/04/new-york-movie-map/

Movie Map iPhone App: http://www.shinyshiny.tv/2010/07/moviemap_iphone.html

How would you map the institution of film – the networks through which it gets produced, distributed, consumed, etc.?

What other media “institutions” might we better understand if we were to consider their spatial or geographic qualities?

eBoy, FooBar

AT&T Coverage: http://www.wireless.att.com/coverageviewer


Cell Phone Coverage Android App: http://bit.ly/nN9eLf

http://senseable.mit.edu/currentcity/index.html | http://vimeo.com/1839628

OPTE, Map of the Internet: http://www.opte.org/maps/

Kevin Kelly’s Internet Mapping Project: http://www.kk.org/internet-mapping/

What are the politics of these maps? What analytical tools and methods do we employ in Media Studies that might help us to understand these maps as media themselves?


http://www.vimeo.com/4758009 [through 10:06]

See Lisa Parks @ Where 2.0

Consider the vertical dimension of urban media networks – the z axis
Michael Chen & Justin Snider, Signal Space: http://urbanomnibus.net/2011/07/signal-space/

The locations, heights and age of the mobile phone antenna installations filed with the Department of Buildings since 2005. http://urbanomnibus.net/2011/07/signal-space/

“A city...is not a flattenable graph. In a city, networks overlap upon other networks”
(Friedrich Kittler, “The City is a Medium,” New Literary History 27:4 (1996): 719)

Brian McGrath/Skyscraper Museum, Manhattan Timeformations, 2000

“[N]ew infrastructures do not so much supercede old ones as ride on top of them, forming physical and organizational palimpsests – telephone lines follow railway lines, and over time these pathways have not been diffused, but rather etched more deeply into the urban landscape”
(Kazys Varnelis, “The Centripetal City: Telecommunications, the Internet, and the Shaping of the Modern Urban Environment” Cabinet 17 (Spring 2004/5): 27-8)


Derek Watkins: Visualizing US Expansion Through Post Offices: http://derekwatkins.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/posted/ http://vimeo.com/27376376







“A map of New York City, divided by zip code and labeled with yearly circulation figures, is a historical reference point for other socially important goings-on: what else was happening in the East Village in the 1977 that caused New York Times circulation to nosedive in a concentrated area? Was a loss of interest in the newspaper a social cause, or a social effect? The beauty of using a multimodal platform for this research is the open, infinite number of historical connections that may either overlap lightly or connect directly with other vistas of cultural history.”
“I think that some comprehensive overview of infrastructure and usage over time is important in itself, in that it helps us to understand how this city has grown and modernized over time, but where it really gains value is in its ability to be applied to other observations and other sets of data that lie outside of my direct area of concern. In short, it is in the URT setting that such a mapping project’s fruits can really be appreciated.”

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