Associate Professor of Art Danny Jauregui, who recently presented on his digital mapping and erasure project, Disguised Ruins, at a DigLibArts High Tech Happy Hour, will be delivering a presentation on the same project at the upcoming Digital Humanities Forum at the University of Kansas on “Places, Spaces, Sites: Mapping Critical Intersections in Digital Humanities.” Offering a critical analysis of digital mapping technologies and the failure of seemingly neutral datasets, Jauregui’s work places pressure on and queers traditional mapping practices that obscure the experiences of marginalized communities of gay men in Los Angeles. Many congratulations to Professor Jauregui, and we look forward to learning more as the project progresses!
To learn more about Professor Jauregui’s project, we are sharing his abstract below. Many thanks to Professor Jauregui for generously sharing his work.
Resisting Queer Erasure: Counter-Mapping As Artistic Strategy
Despite developments made by critical cartographers to “undiscipline” the medium and scrutinize its assumptions through a critical lens (Crampton & Kryegier 2016), maps and other data visualizations still maintain an air of neutrality, power, and authority. The pervasive aura that continues to be projected on to GIS and other mapping technologies can be appropriated and used as an artistic strategy in resisting queer historical erasure and this talk will center on my interdisciplinary art project that utilizes such techniques. The talk will argue that a form of “passing” takes place when nonquantifiable datasets like memory, rumor, and creative is remembering (Rabinowitz 1993) are injected into mapping software thus allowing them authority and power otherwise not afforded them given their subjective, questionable, and nonscientific status. Thus a queering of the archive takes place–one in which the demand for purity in the texts that enter the archive is challenged and therefore its authority loosened.
“Disguised Ruins” is a multimodal project consisting of a geospatial animation and accompanying video that maps and animates the opening and closing of every queer space that appears in the Los Angeles section of Bob Damron’s “The Address Book”. Bob Damron’s “The Address Book” is one of the most popular gay travel guides that emerged out of the nascent homophile movement of the 1950’s and early 60’s. The guide book was originally published by Mattachine Society member Hall Call and Bob Damron and later was self published and distributed by Bob Damron’s own Dorian Book Service (Meeker, 2006) . Listing gay friendly bars, restaurants, and eventually sex clubs, bathhouses, and public cruising sites, “The Address Book” became one of the most popular ways for gay men to meet each other and form safe communities. Although extremely popular, the address book contained many inaccuracies and mistakes given that many of the “gay sites” included were largely added through word of mouth telling of trysts and personal experiences as well as containing many defunct spaces given the rapid turnover of gay owned businesses reliant on gay exclusive clientele (Meeker, 2006). Like many countermemory projects before it (Harris & Hazen, 115; Wood, 2010) “Disguised Ruins” uses a data set–in this case addresses–that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies that normally would disqualify them from having any real archival use value given its perceived unreliability, yet this is exactly what makes them a ripe source for this particular counter mapping project.
The talk will first contextualize the above project by embedding it in the discourse of critical cartographies while also comparing it to existing countermapping discourse and projects.
Secondly, the project will be presented in two modes: the first as a standard GIS generated animated map and the second as a video art project that uses, but expands on, the original GIS animation. Lastly, I will use my project as an example of how counter-mapping can be used to queer the archive and counter queer erasure.