LS: Our hope is that the representation is instrumental in terms of synthesizing information and also projecting forward. I’ll talk briefly tonight about Gregory Bateson, who discusses the difference between the map and the territory. Particularly, he describes the map as unknowable, and in a sense the territory is also unknowable. And at the moment at which they converge, the map takes on the structural logic of the territory, which is quite interesting in terms of the critical and projective quality of mapping. James Corner calls this “the agency of mapping” in his work. So I would say that on the one hand, representation is significant because it is still our best tool for advocating for a project. Actually, not only for advocating for the project to others, but also for ourselves to figure out what this thing is. I’m glad that you differentiated between infographics and other more process-based drawings. I think that infographics are actually incredibly powerful and eloquent when they’re done right. But I would say that we try to avoid simply representing the data. We may do that as a first phase just for ourselves, but it quickly becomes more about phrasing an argument than visualizing data, particularly when you’re dealing with territories and large-scale systems which are very hard to pin down. D26: Speaking of the relationship between the map and the territory, how does Lateral plan to collapse this distance and establish a presence in the Artic in a long term way?
Will Martin (M.Arch ‘15): Along the lines of the real and the nonreal, I’m wondering how your office approaches representation. Do you use it as an operative tool for imagining the outcome of a project in the design process? Or is it more of a strictly communicative tool, like in the case of an infographic?
I think as a discipline, we have the unique ability to look both strategically and synthetically at a range of issues. We research and locate opportunities, and then we start to visualize and spatialize what those opportunities could become. This would be in contrast to how a social scientist might observe a particular cultural challenge but may not be able to translate the issue into something actionable. For example, at Waterloo, we often bring in experts from outside of architecture for thesis reviews, particularly if the research has been focused on social or ecological issues. Recently, we brought in an ecologist and he was astounded that the student had made a proposition. He said, “You know, we just never do this. We never propose.” I think that the inclination to propose is a unique skill that stems from our lineage as a commission-based system where we wait for the clients to find us.