An animated voyage through an alternative Venice… a Venice depicted through the idiosyncratic maps of Venetian business cards
As a lagoon-city, Venice has a unique urban morphology that engenders an equally distinctive means of wayfinding.
Venetians rely on a forma urbis giving preference to landmarks, edges, and nodes rather than street addresses. When giving directions they abandon all references to sequential numbering. Often their directions are narrative-based: “30 meters from the Rialto Bridge,” “to the left of San Polo,” “in the Campo Santa Margherita.” The ubiquitous maps found on Venetian business cards (biglietti da visita) reveal how a Venetian understands and imagines his city.
Using no single cartographic source, these business cards rely on hand-drawn pictorial representations to orient patrons. Highly fragmented and not drawn to scale, these drawings alternate between perspectival-view and plan-view. Many of these maps volumize landmarks while flattening surrounding buildings to achieve legibility. By exaggerating the size of landmarks relative to their context, they create a new hierarchy rooted in issues of subjective significance. These are not misrepresentations, but portals to another Venice… a more intuitive Venice… a non-Euclidian Venice.
“Venice Re-Mapped” is an animated voyage through that alternate Venice. It collages the maps found on over 200 Venetian business cards into a single digital model, allowing another city to emerge … a Venice that is magical yet oddly legible. Within this city exist many Rialto Bridges, numerous San Marcos and a variety of contradicting perspectives.
In the gallery, the animation is both projected on one wall and reflected on an array of mirrored vinyl map pieces to create a site-specific immersive environment – a Venice within Venice.
As Kevin Lynch wrote in his seminal book “The Image of the City”: “Most often our perception of the city is not sustained, but rather partial, fragmentary, mixed with other concerns. Nearly every sense is in operation, and the image is the composite of them all.” Though focused on one city, “Venice Re-Mapped” contributes to our global understanding of urbanism, perception, behavioral geography, and architecture. It peeks into and exposes a Venetian’s poetic understanding of their city while suggesting that similar highly subjective modes of navigation exist throughout our world.