Cultural Magnitude: Interactive visual mapping - A hybrid network for indigenous data
This research has been undertaken in response to the limitations of standard mapping techniques, in particular, those that use ESRI-based technology and delivery. The work argues that our ability to understand the complex nature of indigenous ontologies and spatial models are affected by the available tools and their ontological frameworks. It sets out to visualise, in a tool, traditionally non-physical, but inherently spatial, data and information. The map, in a traditional sense, now becomes a fluid, open, self-referential virtual topography or ‘space’, challenging the rational top-down fixity of western cartographic representation. As an architectural thesis, it seeks to create holistically structured space as a virtual edifice and is concerned with that which is not represented and concludes that the most important aspect of creating a mapping framework for an indigenous ontology is to understand the inseparable relationship between people, knowledge and land. The research describes a tool designed and built by the author that contributes to cultural and spiritual health (whai ora) and wellbeing of Māori. Through its ontological framework, it aims to provide an alternate map that enables users to navigate and share cultural knowledge. The central concept is to ‘re-connect’, in particular, urban and disenfranchised Māori, through the creation of a virtual space that can be customised and inhabited in various ways by its users. It questions and challenges what is included and what is excluded, what can be represented, asking where might culture have a ‘place’? How might people and their environments effect change in themselves? In others? Cultural Magnitude is the exploration of the development of a tool that acts as a digital representation and storage place of whakapapa and taonga, and as a cultural resource for Māori to understand their spiritual bounds to physical locations - a tangible foundation for a digital marae.