Janet Abrams

Janet Abrams recently joined the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal as Associate Director, Research, where she is charged with developing a new strategy for generating and disseminating research, likely to encompass collaborative projects, international partnerships and experimental publications. A widely-published critic in the fields of architecture, design, new media and the visual arts, she was Director of the University of Minnesota Design Institute, in Minneapolis, from 2000-2008. There she commissioned numerous projects on the theme of mapping, including the "Twin Cities Knowledge Maps," a printed set of alternative cartographies of Minneapolis/St Paul.

With Peter Hall, she co-edited the award-winning anthology "Else/Where: Mapping - New Cartographies of Networks and Territories" (2006), on mapping in diverse contexts - from cities to the human genome. Janet holds a B.Sc. degree in Architecture from University College, London; a Ph.D. in Architectural History, Theory and Criticism from Princeton University; and an MFA in Ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Art, completed in 2010.

Panel: Auto/biography: Data, Identity and Narrative

Identity has long been intertwined with key fragments of information: social insurance and credit card numbers, a current address, a passport and driver’s license, etc. While diary keeping may seem quaint and antiquated, the computation that drives contemporary culture has engendered a new era of pervasive surveillance where almost every discrete act/transaction/waypoint is logged on a server somewhere. In this session we will don our optimist glasses and discuss how ubiquitous data is inspiring new approaches for articulating autobiography, personal trajectories and neighbourhood narratives. The federal government distills your essence down to a census form, and Citibank might think of you as a set of purchase patterns - how can we co-opt and critically engage these approaches through visualization and mapping? More importantly: what can we learn about ourselves?