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(Project in Master's degree, in 2019)

Maps are a means of visualising the world around us, allowing us to document geospatial data that is beyond our verbal capacity to (re)present. Traditionally understood as objective tools for making the world visible, in fact, their insight is always partial, and the practice of mapping itself a productive force in the reality it claims to depict.

My aim in this project was not to treat the map as a technical tool but use it as a means of contextualising particular mapping practices in Estonia. The design responded to news of a dispute over the ownership and access right to some privatised roads in Aespa, a town in Rapla county. The open data of land use on the Maaamet (Land Board) web map server was used by a businessman seeking potential roads which he could buy at a low price and then sell back to local users for a profit. However, the news suggested that the same mapping tool could be used to counter his exploitation of road privatisation.

My design aimed to offer another way of engaging with maps, focusing attention less on the data itself, but on our interpretation of it.  It does so by reflexively mapping a particular narrative: detailing precisely the relational connections between Aespa roads, their ownership, and the open data on Maaamet’s map server; and illustrating how the specifics of the dispute relate to wider political issues. As a reflection on how we perceive maps as the instrument of depicting environment, this design manifests the function of narration rather than recording within geospatial representation pictures.

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