Alexander Gronsky . The Edge . source


A border/boundary is inherently political, socially and environmentally responsive, and by no means fixed. How can this thickened state be used to consider the effect of mapping on the boundary itself, and what are the impacts of the recognition of such a condition?


Boundary: the linear limit or edge of a territory such as a private piece of property, a county, state, or country.

“Borders, buffer zones, walls, control systems, protected areas: you only have to leave your house or watch the news to realise that the space about us ripples with boundaries. Our lives are marked by a succession of badges, passwords, entry and identification codes. These boundaries are another face of globalisation, framing the world’s flow of individuals, goods and information. They proliferate to defend privileges and customs; they are used to control territories and to regulate cultural and language exchanges. For this reason, boundaries today are not merely lines or walls.” Multiplicity

Map:a visual representation of an area—a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of that space such as objects, regions, and themes.

“… the very idea of a map, with its implicit dependence on the survey of a stable terrain, fixed referents and measurement, seems to contradict the palpable flux and fluidity of metropolitan life and cosmopolitan movement.”

Iain Chambers, ‘Cities Without Maps’ p.188

“The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it. Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory … it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map. It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges subsist here and there, in the deserts which are no longer those of the Empire but our own: The desert of the real itself.”

Jean Baudrillard, ‘Simulations’ trans. Paul Foss, Paul Patton, Philip Beitchman (New York: Semiotext(e), 1983)


  1. What is a boundary?
  2. What are the benefits / roles of boundaries?
  3. How may the qualities of a boundary be represented?
  4. What role does mapping play in the notion of boundary [including the making and marking of]?
  5. What is a map[ping]?
  6. What is its role?
  7. [and] What is the impact of the act of mapping?

“Even though the map is not the territory, to make maps is to organize oneself, to generate new connections and to be able to transform the material and immaterial conditions in which we find ourselves immersed. It isn’t the territory but it definitely produces territory.”

Car_Tac (Cartograficas Tacticas), 2006. Quoted in Mendez de Andes et al. pg. 157

Through my MLA thesis I wish to generate a body of research – by, through, and about design – on the making and marking of territory and the effects it has on the environments around it. The interrogation is to produce knowledge about , including the rules, registration of, management/control, and resilience of territory and boundaries.

A series of case studies, both historical and propositional, will [through their association with one another] set up a series of critiques and responses to the making and marking of boundary conditions.

I anticipate that the final project will present a suite of design responses/approaches to designing for territorial, specifically boundary conditions, at a number of scales. It is assumed that there will be more than one site that is interrogated through the MLA, as the concept of scale is a key interest throughout my practice. A number of possibilities for site exist already, and at a number of scales. The site will be assessed through the following conditions: scales of boundaries, types of boundaries, effects of boundaries.


Having travelled through Australia as a child I experienced a number of different boundary states/crossings. I am interested in interrogating the reasons for creating boundaries, the types of boundaries that exist and why, and the impacts of these on the people/creatures/environments in which they are located. I am interested in both the micro-level of the territorial condition itself and also the macro-level of both national and global forces that affect it.

I am looking to conduct research into boundary conditions in contemporary Australia. My research is to be unapologetically political in nature, and has embedded within it interests in representation, social behaviours, urbanism, transformation, resilience, territory.

Other components of this may be:

  1. Recent and hidden processes of transformation of the urban condition.
  2. Boundaries both abstract and real/formal
  3. History of border making in Australia – VIC/SA conflict, demarcation of borders along meridians, rather than environmental ‘scars’, or features. European habit of marking borders along natural features – easier to control, demarcate, less to negotiate [?]
  4. What effect does the act of mapping have on the boundary itself? i.e. VIC/SA boundary mapped in wrong location, spurs dispute, Unnayan [Calcutta/Kolkata] preparing maps that located and detailed settlements that existed in that city at that time but were blanked out in official and commercial maps.
  5. Complexity of individual and collective identity – making of nation [construction and diffraction of this]


Throughout the semester I wish to follow a structure of interrogation / process:

The process will comprise firstly of making a broad sweep of types of boundaries and the methods of making and marking them; secondly, of a culling and selection of boundary types; and thirdly of an application of boundary types and treatments to a particular site.

The process will then be repeated taking into account the knowledge that was gained in iteration 01.

I am also interested in exploring the purpose of mapping for different disciplines, such as cartographers and surveyors, including what maps mean for these, the importance of mapping, the techniques/methods of mapping. I am aware that it is important not to get caught up within the act of research, so I have set up the following frameworks:

The potential site will be assessed through the following:

  1. Scales of boundaries
  2. Types of boundaries
  3. Effects of boundaries

Strategically I require more than one site to test my ideas on. This might be explored through:

  1. multiple sites at different scales
  2. multiple sites in multiple countries

Each site will be tested through a number of mappings / methods of representing or testing boundary typologies. These are intended to be both conventional, relating to certain professions and existing methods of recording/registering boundary; and non-conventional, as I acknowledge an extenuating frustration with the limitations of conventional mapping techniques and their inability to address / reflect instability and reality.

“The need to comprehend in one image both the dimension of time and that of space lies at the origin of cartography. Time as a story of the past… and time in the future: as the presence of obstacles that are encountered on the journey, and here the weather (tempo atmosferico) is joined with chronological time (tempo cronologico)…”

Italo Calvino. Il viadante nella mappa, in Collezione di sabbia, Palomar/Mondadori, Milan 1984

Conventional techniques are to include plans and sections, other techniques are to include photography- and animation-based drawings, as well as exploring film and other medias that attempt to capture the instability of boundary conditions.

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