Cheonggyecheon, Dongdaemun Gentrification: Technical Notes
Previously: Artist’s note
E Roon Kang, Wonyoung So
Most maps represent space as it was at the time of mapping; they document what exists here and now. Places that disappear are also erased from maps and replaced with new things. The aggregate of such records constitutes history. By following the records along the time axis, we can approach a chronological understanding of things that happened in a location.
Cheonggyecheon, Dongdaemun Gentrification questions the process in which things and places are mapped. Do maps always need to document physical entities only? How are personal and collective memories represented on maps? How can we document and display the history of a place using online digital maps? What are the things deliberately omitted from history? Like Dan Phiffer’s workshop, Listen to the City’s mental map with street vendors embrace the personal time and history of individual street vendors, who have operated around Cheongyecheon and Dongdaemun for as many as 30 years. The lack of documentation of their memory urges an alternative method to maintain map data as historical records — a tough problem for open mapping communities to solve.
While the OSM community has a track record of multiple attempts to archive data of places that have disappeared, only a few of these attempts remain active. Open Historical Map is one such example that proposes a platform where users can contribute data about entities that are no longer existent. The data structure is almost identical with that of OSM, except the following two columns:
start_date=* and end_date=*
Despite the similarity in data structure, Open Historical Map uses a separate database from the OSM database, unlike many other OSM-related side projects. This is presumably due to the project’s purpose being at odds with OSM’s focus on current geographic information. One could also develop systems similar to Who’s On First in order to build a data platform for places that have disappeared. Whereas data on OSM can be displayed using a single map, historic data such as the memory map documented in this workshop will require a completely different data visualization method.
In contrast, the second day’s mapping of Cheonggyecheon area involved current data, which made it good for contribution to OSM the very day. One minor issue was that the flood gates were displayed as if they were exactly on the pedestrian pathway; future edits will address this discrepancy. The resulting disaster map of flood gates and emergency ladders around Cheonggyecheon are displayed in the Seoul Libre Maps exhibition gallery.
Translated from Korean by Achim Koh