Transcript Conference Abstracts

“TRANSCRIPT”, “Mental maps”: between memory transcription and symbolic projection


Keynote first day
Spatial thinking is the foundation of thought

All living things must move and act in space to survive; even plants, rooted in the soil, must turn towards the sun, away from the wind. In humans, the same brain infrastructure that underlies places in space and real space also underlies events in temporal spaces, people in social spaces, ideas in conceptual spaces. Gestures, graphics and language provide additional support. Our hands act on ideas as if they were acting on objects, forming gestures that facilitate our own and others’ thinking. Graphics capture gestures on a page. Because they use actions or elements in space to express thought, they map it more directly than purely symbolic language. Words express this mapping: we express ideas, turn them around, deconstruct them, put them together. Our mind goes from one thought to another as our feet go from one place to another, along paths that are relations between thoughts.


An integrated and constructivist approach to spatial representations in memory: anticipated energy expenditure modulates metric properties

Embodied and situated approaches to cognition consider perception as a process of categorizing spatial information into action possibilities (Coello & Delevoye-Turrell, 2007). In particular, it has been proposed in an action-specific approach (Proffitt, 2006) that the anticipation of energy expenditure associated with locomotion is embedded in visual distance perception (White, Shockley & Riley, 2013; Witt, Linkenauger & Wickens, 2016). Although the generalizability of these results to more ecological situations is discussed (Firestone & Scholl, 2014). This work questions the construction of representations (Barsalou, 2008) and their memory. Two studies were conducted to explore the mechanisms involved in the integration of sensorimotor information in the construction and memory of spatial representations. In the first study participants were asked to learn virtual environments, participants’ perception of walking effort was modified using ankle weights. In the second study, a transgression of the synchrony between visually anticipated and physically experienced efforts were introduced through the use of virtual reality. The results show that the addition of extra effort or transgression of proprioceptive expectations during navigation learning specifically modulates the metric properties of the spatial representation in memory. These results provide further support for an integrative approach combining predictive coding theories (Friston, 2012) and embodied and situated models of spatial representation (Tversky, 2003).


Socio-cognitive representations of space: tour devices and online pathways

In the field of Information and Communication Sciences, space is understood as language and representation integrating a part of the unconscious. The study of the logics and structures of this unconscious allows the elaboration of a rationality of its forms and of other modes of intelligibility. These configurations give an account of the processes of externalization of the representations of the space. To orientate oneself and to move are part of a syntax which is transformed and articulated to new spatial cognitions. These transformations lead us to question the co-construction of the territory. In particular, the analysis of online visit devices i.e., mobile applications to rediscover the urban space, mediation courses on StoryMaps. Their uses allow for the identification of knowledge of the territory. The map is studied as logical support giving a reading of the spaces and their relations. The place as a socio-symbolic device becomes a link in a network where information contains the territory and itself evolves through digital practices. Moreover, the putting into words of the spaces travelled through is articulated to the identification of the types of appropriations of the places and the visual of the territory becomes the consequence of the mediated semiotic practices. The study of online visit devices thus contributes to requalify the perceived space and the digital tools seem to update and diversify the notion of mediation and memory of places. The process of navigation builds a spatio-temporal domain of meaning and the interfaces allow a mediation towards the understanding of new projections and in the plural space of the city.


Projection of an internal cinema

Inside / outside: how to go from a (more or less) internal form to an external representation? Psychology refers to it by speaking of internal and external objects, introjection and projection. She also says that words shape the space within and allow access to otherness. Classifying, arranging, fixing information makes it possible – like the evolution of humanity, effective thanks to language – to keep in mind previous human experiences and to continue to represent the world to oneself while improving one’s knowledge of it. Language is the storehouse of past experiences that we draw on to create new ideas. The ex / pressure (graphic or verbal) gives the possibility of symbolically bringing something out of oneself to present it outside – whether it is a pictorial production (memory, art) or an idea. A first step can therefore consist in placing one or the other on a white space, the beginnings of a speech or a more elaborate speech to come – by a heuristic diagram freeing and organizing ideas (mind map: Buzan, 2008…), or by a physical representation (cognitive map: Lynch, 1976; Downs and Stea, 1977) ideally supplemented by a speech – as in psychological tests (of the village, of the family…) or reflective drawing (Molinié, 2010). I propose to talk about mental maps in this methodological psychological and linguistic approach, showing that the whole leads to an autonese (Tulving, 1985) – the spatial “object” leading to a temporal perception and a consciousness of self.


Mapping an occupation: a graphically expressed statement

This paper offers a sociological analysis of a performative experience of mapping in New York’s Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement in 2011. A graphic designer created a work referencing the OWS statement, which was transformed into an original graphic rendering through a participatory process in the occupied space of Zuccotti Park.
Rachel’s “mind map” emerged as a graphic response to the unexplored question of what Occupy was at that particular moment, in that it visualized the connections of grievances of unknown people resisting in the same movement. The graphically rendered “list of grievances” redoubled the continuous transition between ideas and three-dimensional lived space, and the two-dimensional flat surface of graphic mapping and did so through performative practice. Map content, cartography, and map reading are susceptible to change and interpretation as well as maintaining political and social utility (Lefebvre 1974) and establishing power relations (Schechner 2002). In this regard, the question is how this collective-performative mapping embodied and transcribed the interconnectedness between the perceived, conceived, and experienced space-time(s) (Lefebvre 1974, Harvey 2005) within the occupied space of OWS. In response to this question, a relational approach in methodology will be adopted by considering that spaces emerge with the relational arrangement of living beings and objects (Löw 2016) through action, including a semi-structured interview with the artist.

Pierre DIAS

The social dimension of mental maps: towards the notion of socio-spatial representation

The paradigm of spatial cognitions develops simultaneously the study of representation images and their construction processes. It is admitted that the mental map is elaborated from the meaning attributed to places (Evans, 1980), which makes it a spatially symbolic representation. Moreover, there is no relationship to geographical space common to all individuals of a universal kind. In fact, spatial representation should also be social (Jodelet, 1982), i.e. dependent on the nature of relations between social groups. In other words, we hypothesize that the mental map is to be understood as a socio-spatial representation depending on the complexity of the social positions of individuals and that participates in social dynamics. A questionnaire was carried out with 681 civil servants of the University of Strasbourg. The mental maps of the city are collected by hierarchical evocations and characterized by Likert scales allowing to know their evaluative or functional dimension. A CAH on the evocations shows that the mental maps are related to the social positions of the individuals. The spatial representation is evaluative organized on the physicality of the places when the person occupies a high position; and functional (conveniences of the places) when his social position is more modest. These results show the relevance of approaching mental maps as symbolic representations where the social dimension strongly participate in their construction. Beyond the topological aspect of mental maps, it is necessary to consider them as real.


Some social effects on the recording of spatial representations with freehand drawing

Numerous research shows that working class individuals mention less elements in their mental map than other social groups. In line with the work on the difficulties of low-skilled people in drawing (Pailhous and Vergnaud, 1989; Baldy et al, 1992), we will show that these results are partly linked to the technique most used to record spatial representations. To do so, we compared freehand drawing to a spatial modeling technique (Ramadier and Bronner, 2006), the spatial reconstruction game (SRG), comprising a board and eight standardized pieces. The hypothesis is to test whether the differences mentioned fade when the method is no longer based on freehand drawing, i.e., on paper/pencil task. Thirty students and twenty-one university maintenance employees expressed their spatial representation of downtown Strasbourg using a drawing and the JRS. The results show that the difference between the groups on the number of items mentioned is indeed less important with the JRS. Moreover, when the second round of data collection was carried out with the JRS, both social groups increased their number of urban elements in the same proportions, which was not observed with the drawings. Finally, paradoxically, the JRS is more appreciated by the students, who transcribe the language and cartographic motifs to which they refer more easily. On the other hand, JRS is more suggestive than drawing, especially for the most rarely represented elements.

Tania GRANADA and Thomas GÖRNE

Mapping as an artistic tool in live performance

The project “Mapping: Sonic Correspondence” explores the possibilities of mapping in time-based media. It presents in a web interface the audio correspondence of six months between artists Sara Fernández and Tania Granada, while they are on two different continents. Both participants are able to perform live cognitive mapping in the form of an audiovisual piece made up of elements of cartographic imagery, site-related sounds and sound processing. While attempting to represent existing geographical locations, this mapping also aims to express the live interaction of the performers in the performance space while simultaneously describing their physical distance. From remote locations, an audiovisual dialogue is established to experiment with the creative and narrative possibilities of mapping. We see this practice not only as an act of exploration and understanding of the world, but also as an act with the potential to create a new sense of place, which, like any other, is constantly evolving over time.


Forms of presentation: transcriptions and non-transcriptions of paths and mental maps in some conceptualist proposals

There is a constant interest in the act of walking in different artistic proposals related to the conceptualist currents of the 1960s and 1970s. In these proposals, elaborated by artists such as On Kawara, Cildo Meireles and Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, the journeys made in the city or in nature constitute an artistic activity in itself whether transcribed or not. Still other artists, such as Edgardo Antonio Vigo, Stanley Brouwn and Luiz Alphonsus, have invited others to make journeys, to represent them in drawings or to memorize them in mental maps. They all also developed different conceptions and approaches to the use or non-use of mind maps, recordings and transcriptions of journeys in the development of a poetics. Thus, the forms of presentation of the analyzed works seem to configure and articulate the constitutive elements involved. This is shown through the interplay between the presence and absence of transcripts ,the non-use of transcription as a way of emphasizing one’s own memory, internal and personal associative connections, and imagination; or the deliberate use of tools, methods, or recordings that produce partial information. This study therefore focuses on the constitution of the artistic languages of these proposals and address the experience of the journey and that, in different ways, brings to the foreground issues of the representation of space and the space of representation.

Clémence LONJON

To see what escapes the glance – a-subjective images of the lived space

For many years, the crossbreeding between art and cartographic activity has been the subject of theoretical and expographic dialogue that has treated the map as an indexical sign, and mapping as a creative act. Although it can be a medium of mediation and sometimes even a transitional object1, its techniques of elaboration or its operations2 are very often hidden from our view. If the spatialized life story 3 (Bouchra Khalili) or the cartographic sketch (Till Roeskens) realize the sensitive mediation of the lived space, the acts of objectivations – the acts of doing4 – are often absent. I propose to question the vocabulary of transcription by relying on the devices and tools created during my field research (Récit(s) de la tour Plein ciel) and the cartographic work carried out by Fernand Deligny’s collaborators in the Cévennes. I will analyze the witness’ language of the tracing who bends to the game of recollection, and that of the observer, who through the game of transcription, gives an account of the relations between the space and the individual. How the “pressed lines“5 of the technical gestures, once free from the geometry and the drawing, report on the “lines of movements“6 and the gestures of the users? With what means, tools and procedures and how does the recorder7?inform the stages of this spatial re-construction and the contemporaneity of the gesture and of the recollection?

Michel DENIS

Keynote second day

Spatial cognition: Perceived, traveled and represented spaces

What do we know about space? In this presentation, we will first examine the very notion of “knowledge of space”. Specifically when it concerns experts whose professional practice is to precisely describe space, to measure it, to map it, to arrange it, but also to design systems allowing everyone to navigate in it safely. In reality, we are all in our daily lives “practitioners of space”, through a range of behaviors that allow us to explore it and build mental representations of it. We store these representations in our memory for our own use, but we also use them to help others, in the form of sketches or with the help of language, to create new paths in unfamiliar environments. This is where the approach of researchers comes in, whose objective is to understand the functioning of the human mind when confronted with space, as it is translated into adapted behaviors and as it is carried by brain activity. We will review the most common cognitive acts of the “spatial man”, by evaluating their efficiency, but also by detecting the distortions that affect them. Finally, we will question the extent, as well as the limits, of spatial technologies and the growing dependence of individuals on navigation assistance systems.


Mental maps, discourse and collective memory: the concept of position to study the spatial inscriptions of memory

The spatial anchoring of collective memory is underlined as early as the pioneering work of Maurice Halbwachs (1925, 1950), which breaks away from physicalism and recognizes the importance of the symbolic dimension in the relationship of individuals to space. Although Halbwachs already shows this empirically in his study of the Holy Land (1941), the psychosociological approach and mental mapping have proven their worth in this field (Haas, 2004, Haas & Jodelet, 2007). In order to follow this, our paper will be dedicated to the concept of semio-spatial position, which we use to study the state border in the mental maps of the inhabitants of Strasbourg. On the theoretical level, we base our approach on the concepts of topos (Hammad, 2013) and social legibility (Ramadier & Moser, 1998): starting from the methodology of mental mapping and associating it with techniques of production and discursive analysis. This concept allows us to deepen the meanings associated with a geographical object, in order to identify their contribution to the positioning of the element in question in the cognitive map. Through examples taken from our fieldwork, we will show that this methodology represents an original contribution to the study of the relationship between collective memory and socio-spatial representations, because it links the social trajectory of individuals to the memory contents anchored to a spatial object. This makes it possible to compare memory contents according to the groups, and in particular to identify the discrepancies between collective memories and institutionalized history (Viaud, 2003).


Modeling the collective perception of an urban space, using cartographic deformation as a visualization tool, application to the Dijon agglomeration

Based on the theories of A. Moles, we postulate that the perception of the world is egocentric and that this perception decreases in intensity, in concentric circles, as one moves away from the individual according to a negative exponential function. A whole new geometry is then constructed which allows the maps to be deformed using coordinate formulas and using an advanced homothety. If the question of individual space arises, we can also consider the urban collective from processes of population aggregation and urban form. The city is not only composed of individuals each having their own perception, but also structured by a function of population density distribution (generalized Clark). The collective perception results from the intersection of these two elements. The deformation geometry then takes on another multi-individual dimension offering the image of a perception map that we call encrypted. We propose here, a methodology of deformation in a GIS helped by the software of C.Cauvin Darcy.

Alejandro GÓMEZ-GONÇALVES, Juan Antonio García González, Jaume Binimelis Sebastían, Isabel María Gómez Trigueros

Mental maps to measure students’ geo-literacy

Geo-literacy is a line of work with a great tradition. It began in the Anglo-Saxon sphere in the 1980s and 1990s and has continued until today. Geo-literacy uses various methods and techniques, including mental maps, place locators (place, location, knowledge) and, finally, multi-criteria tests that include place identification and other physical and human geography exercises. In this research, we used mental maps as a tool to analyze geography learning in Spanish pre-service primary teachers. We chose this group of university students for their possible multiplier effect, as they will teach geography to future generations of teachers. Our data source is based on a sample of 629 maps about the political-administrative division of the Spanish state from students of four Spanish universities located in different regions. The results show the inconsistency in the knowledge of future teachers according to the place of residence and the level of the structure of the country about which they are asked. Furthermore, these results reinforce the usefulness of mind maps as an optimal method for assessing geographic knowledge.


A sensory reactivation through the mental maps of “David Bond

This conference exposes a fine reading of a selection of unusual drawings, which we consider representative of the “mental maps” of the Scottish artist David Bond. This artist represents urban scenes with three levels of complexity. The first one concerns the buildings or the city map as a background, the second one concerns the user practices and the characters, and the third one concerns the sensory information and the annotations. We were particularly interested in this work because we found that a series of illustrations could accompany our chronicles established during previous work on the architectural and urban ambiences of the “Beb Bhar” square in downtown Tunis. This sensitive reading brings out a confrontation between a memorial transcription and a symbolic projection. Our starting hypothesis states that David Bond represents mental maps that in addition to offering a dynamic and colorful image of an emblematic place of the city of Tunis, also allow, through a visual reactivation, the sensory solicitation of the observer, as far as it is able to relate the atmosphere of the context, to see a rich urban dynamic and to detect “the essence of the place. This work proposes a combinatorial protocol for reading a set of representations that : 1. confronts the drawings with the chronicle and exposes the readable user practices in the “Ballet of Beb Bhar” 2. lingers on the sensitive dimension expressed and related by the artist himself vis-à-vis a socio-cultural framework that is strange to him, given his origins 3. gathers a set of descriptive of respondents expressing the emotional side and “the setting in narrative” of some supports.

Laurent BERRY

Linking measured spatial and temporal data (data) and a-spatial data that are more the result of reasoned observation (capta)

Mental models are often rarely represented in data models. They are more a matter of obtained, sought or accomplished data, also referred to as data of the experience of consciousness (capta, sublata, quoesita), than of thought or collected data. However, it is necessary to go through the restitution of these data of the experience to project them in a space of representation. Inspired by Richard L. Lanigan who “proposes to analyze what is apparently manifest as the dialectical relation between what is thought (data) and what is lived as a flow of experience (capta)”. We can envisage a distinction between data and observations in order to better integrate memorial transcription and symbolic projection. We explore the possibilities of linking measured spatial and temporal data and a-spatial data, which are also often atypical, and are more the result of a reasoned observation (capta). Our approach aims to move towards an interpretation guide of the perceptions that can be the “capta” to link them to the spatial dimensions and the temporal dynamics of the experience in the framework of user experience design (UX) for example.

Nicolas CLEMENT and Yvan PAILLER

Prehistoric stone maps: from mental image to three-dimensional representation of space

A certain number of prehistoric engravings throughout the world are interpreted as cartographic representations, that of Bedolina (Val Camonica, Italy), attributed to the Iron Age, being undoubtedly the best known. Of these works, which are often abstract to our eyes, we can at best perceive the formal similarities. The repetition of motifs and the lines that link them give the feeling of being confronted with maps, although it is difficult to demonstrate this, and the scale of representation often escapes us. This can be explained by dating back to rock art, our ignorance of the archaeological environment, contemporary of the engravings, or deformations related more to the needs of the representation (real and imaginary spaces) than to aberrations of the mental image. The three-dimensional examination of a probable engraved map from the Bronze Age, discovered in Leuhan Finistère, offers for the first time in Europe the opportunity to grasp the scale of representation, thanks to the sufficiently precise figuration of the relief. Like other prehistoric petroglyphs interpreted as maps, it shows a cartography oriented according to the hydrographic network, taking advantage of the relief of the rocky support, even if it means modifying it, and motifs that can be interpreted as elements of the natural and man-made landscape. These observations are in line with ethnographic findings in pre-industrial societies, but do not allow us to rule on the motivations behind these supposed prehistoric maps.


Sketch of a typology of the representations resulting from an urban course for 120 walkers

How to “draw a map of a neighborhood so that a friend can find his way around”? This occasional exercise constitutes the basic scenario of the CORES research experiments. In the framework of this research, 120 walkers explore an unknown neighborhood for an hour, then draw a map to guide a friend’s future installation in the neighborhood. This experimentation, which should commit the form of the drawn map to objectivity, has instead generated a great diversity of representations of space. This diversity shows the importance of individual representation spaces in the elaboration of mental maps. In order to understand this importance, we propose to produce the extraction of a space of mental representation from the following points. First, we build a typological analysis of the landmarks composing the exploration space, according to the Wikidata repository, to appreciate their diversity. Thus, the drawings of the mental maps collected during our experiment present more restricted typologies of landmarks, as if the explorer applied a filter in his perception and representation of the space. In the second step, we perform a semantic analysis of each mental map by identifying landmarks referenced in Open Street Map associated to a type from the Wikidata repository. In the third step, we extract a heuristic map built on a typological tree from the Wikidata repository, where each node is weighted by the number of occurrences of landmarks of the same type in the studied mind map. In the fourth step, we will perform a semantic analysis of each mind map to try to identify a field of representations. – Finally, we will try to elaborate a typology of representation fields resulting from the study.