• Close Up at a Distance: Mapping as a Problem of Technology and Politics
    Laura Kurgan
    Zone Books, 2013
    Laura Kurgan

Laura Kurgan, Shades of Green, Exhibited in "Anti-Photojournalism," La Virenna, Barcelona, 2010. Imagery reprocessed from Geo-Eye 1m resolution.

Close Up At A Distance presents a series of speculations on and experiments with new technologies of location, remote sensing, and mapping. It tracks events, and their spatial politics, from the first Gulf War and Kosovo to the U.S. incarceration epidemic and the plight climate refugees, with a range of images, maps, and arguments. Research that generally began in exhibition form is here extended and reframed in print in order to make some claims and arguments about what these maps, and the technologies of spatial representation which produced them, have to do with the spaces they represent, beyond simply representing them. Maps construct space—physical, discursive, political, archival, and memorial. This book presents a number of the spaces that emerged as the once-secret digital, and often military, technologies of mapping—and the data which they make use—became available to ordinary citizens, activists, and scholars.

Laura Kurgan is associate professor in the Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning at Columbia University, where she is also director of visual studies and codirector of the Spatial Information Design Lab (SIDL). Her work explores the conceptual, ethical, and political dimensions of digital location technologies, mapping, new structures of participation in design, and the visualization of urban and global data. Her projects have been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale; the Whitney Altria; MACBa Barcelona; the ZKM Karlsruhe; and the Museum of Modern Art (where it is part of the permanent collection), New York. She was named one of Esquire's "Best and Brightest" in 2008, and was awarded a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship in 2009.