Mapping Collected Memory: An Exploration of Memory-Based Navigation in Amman, Jordan

Regina Mamou


The purpose of this research is to explore navigational and image-making methods in a context where maps and formal address systems have been minimally consulted in recent years. This investigation is approached by way of a research-based art project on subjective cartography, which was carried out from 2009 to 2010 during a Fulbright fellowship to Amman, Jordan. The project examines the mutability of a specific location as well as its relationship between obsolescence in cartographic resources and the photographic medium. By reaching out to Ammani residents for informal tours of the city, selected guides were asked to narrate their experiences of navigating the city by memory and then directed to point out key landmarks during this process. Later, these tours were re-memorized and landmarks were photographed as a representation of the afterimage to capture high-quality still images through the use of a large-format photographic device. These afterimages are not intended to serve as documents or memorials of Amman but rather as ruminations on the faculties of memory in an ever-changing environment. This subjective experience, or the observation of a city’s minutiae amid wayfinding, poses a series of inquiries, vis-à-vis memory-based navigation and the role of still images, as an alternative to the panoptic view of a map. The result is a meditative project considering the plasticity of an urban entity, presented as a composition of written material and large-scale photographs, fragments of the city that when viewed as a series come together as a constellation of a subjective whole.



Photography; Video Art; Art and Maps

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