The not-yet-tropical: mapping recombinant ecologies in a Sydney suburb

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Visual Communication, 2020, 19, (3), pp. 331-352
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© The Author(s) 2020. Mapping and fitness apps, government agencies and departments, and citizen science projects provide a wealth of data on urban green spaces, charting parks, reserves, and green corridors in and around Sydney. These maps represent vegetation as surface and, as Doreen Massey in the 2005 book For Space noted about other types of Western maps, detach the observer from the object of their gaze. The authors argue that, in order to make recombinant ecologies present, as well as visible, we need a different order of maps, able to place the observer back in the thick of things, and to capture the entanglements between humans and more-than-human gatherings. This, they maintain, requires a shift to mapping as an embodied methodology that brings together walking, visual documentation and drawing. To do this, they present three walking maps of plants imagined as ‘tropical’ growing in Marrickville, a suburb in Gadigal-Wangal Country in Sydney’s inner west, an area located in the ‘sub-tropical humid’ climate zone map. Through the generation of three plant-led walking maps, they reveal recombinant Marrickville ecologies. They show how plants redesign the urban landscape and engender everyday practices in the gardens, verges, and non-cultivated parcels of land and, in doing so, contribute to sensing the suburb as tropical.
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