1. Represent (an area) on a map; make a map of (...).
    1. Record in detail the spatial distribution (of something).

See also Map noun

Mapping can be understood as the practice of making maps. Under the influence of new technologies and tools like GPS and smartphones, and the rise of the open source movement (to name just a few developments), maps, increasingly, are no longer viewed as finalised end products. Instead, attention has shifted towards the process of map-making and critical questions are being raised concerning who is (allowed to be) involved in this process. Who, for instance, determines the map’s key of symbols? And, if map readers (users) can also become (co-)authors (makers) of a map?

Considered as a process, mapping can be understood as a contextualised and localised performative practice – in a spatial, as well as social and political, sense. There is a critical difference between making maps as artefacts and mapping as a performance. Where geo-spatial maps help us visualise and measure the world around us, mapping as performative act enables us to question and negotiate the world through the making and remaking of the map. When organised as a collective endeavour (involving multiple actors) and/or as an iterative process (working with cycles of mapping and re-mapping), mapping can be opened up to participation. Collective, collaborative mapping thus allows us to engage in negotiation with (issues concerning) the world around us. Thus, as it evolves in the ‘unfolding action’, mapping is not a process that establishes a particular, perceived reality as ‘right’, but, rather, a way of constructing forms of knowledge in a manner that can do justice to multiple perspectives on reality.

DAE examples

Naomi Bueno de Mesquita, You Are Not Here, Research Associate in TRADERS, project Multiple performative mapping, 2014 (ongoing)

Naomi Bueno de Mesquita, Walkaway, Research Associate in TRADERS, project Multiple performative mapping, 2015 (ongoing)

Naomi Bueno de Mesquita, Between Realities: collective mapping of public space, Research Associate in TRADERS, project Multiple performative mapping, 2015 (ongoing)


  • Bueno de Mesquita, N. (2017). Lexicon. In: D. Hamers, N. Bueno de Mesquita, A. Vaneycken & J. Schoffelen (Eds.). Trading places: Practices of public participation in art and design research (pp. 47-50). Barcelona: dpr-barcelona.

  • Bueno de Mesquita, N., & Hamers, D. (2017). Mapping invisibility. In: Proceedings of the 3rd Biennial Research Through Design Conference (pp. 423-437).

  • Corner, J. (1999). Mappings. The agency of mapping: speculation, critique and invention (pp. 213-252). London: Reaction Books.

  • Crampton, J. (2001). Maps as social constructions: power, communication and visualization. Progress in Human Geography, 25(2), 235-252.

  • Crampton, J. (2009). Cartography: performative, participatory, political. Progress in Human Geography, 33(6), 840-848.

  • Dodge, M., Kitchin, R. & Perkins, C. (2009). Rethinking Maps: New Frontiers in Cartographic Theory. London: Routledge.