After exploring the Abbey Theatre as it’s represented in various formats, the importance of space and how it is represented in maps became even more apparent to me.
First, I attempted to find the Abbey Theatre on the Thom’s map. After a minute or two, I located its spot on the Liffey. The map is shaded in pleasant colors, and the buildings are tiny squares clumped together. In fact, the buildings themselves are not made as distinct as the avenues themselves are; it’s easy for the eye to pass over them and instead focus on the ways in which the streets intersect and form a web. Given the historical and cultural significance of the Abbey Theatre, it’s interesting to consider how its existence can be minimized into this two dimensional, antiquarian form. My interaction with this map definitely highlighted cartography’s inability to capture the true essence of a particular location.
As you can probably see, Abbey Theatre’s atmosphere is much more adequately represented in Google Maps. Instead of a set of lines on a map, this experience allows one to imagine the sense of community and togetherness inside of the theater. Despite the empty seats in this map, it’s easy to consider what the theater feels like when it is packed: the audience reacting to the play unfolding before them, the general excitement that taints the air.
The Thom map simply cannot portray these spatial and atmospheric conditions that this map presents. It’s interesting to draw attention to the stark differences between the two maps, which in a sense, results in two very “different” Abbey Theatres. When provided with an inside look into the theater itself, it’s difficult to conceptualize where it is situated within the broader context of the city, and how it might look from a bird’s eye view. However, the virtual map allows one to step inside of the theater in a more personalized way that a traditional map cannot account for. Perhaps what’s most important is its consideration of space and atmosphere. Within the virtual map, these two factors are more visual and not imagined, aligning with our true experience of how we experience monuments and landscapes throughout the world.