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        • Maarten Overdijk
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        • Monuments and Mental Maps
          Narrating the City and its Periphery

        Abstract
        The changing landscape of post-war America caused many of its inhabitants to feel estranged from their environment. ‘Imageability’ and the practice of mental mapping became the leading paradigm for inquiries into the subjective experience of urban areas. Where the school of Kevin Lynch centres on traditional principles of visual perception and mental representation, the experimental practice of Robert Smithson rejects the conventions of visual perception. Smithson develops a method of field trips and thick description and deploys the format of the travel narrative to construct reports, famously in A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey (1967). What can we learn from Smithson’s practice? And how does it relate to the paradigm of ‘imageability’? This article reflects on the psychological concepts in Robert Smithson’s narrative inquiry and juxtaposes it to the method of Kevin Lynch. It appears that Smithson avoids the assumptions of classical cognitivism – such as the predominance of legibility and the notion of mental representation. Instead, Smithson practices a ‘naive’ approach in which he describes raw sensory data from direct perception, assuming an unmediated relation of subject and object. The key to connecting the two – and to a meaningful experience of the suburbs – lies in the deconstruction of perception and the experience of time and history.
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        Citation
        Overdijk, M. (2017). Monuments and Mental Maps. Narrating the City and its Periphery . Narrating Urban Landscapes, OASE, (98), 31–42. Retrieved from https://www.oasejournal.nl/en/Issues/98/Monumentsandmentalmaps
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