The Chronotope in Cartography and Montreal Cinema
1CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY Email: email@example.com
Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of “the chronotope” – literally meaning “time-space” – is laid out in his essay “Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel: Notes towards a Historical Poetics,” and is useful for analysing literary and artistic works that fuse “spatial and temporal indicators” into concrete manifestations where neither time nor space is privileged (15). The significance of Bakhtin’s chronotope is spelled out as “the place where the knots of narrative are tied and untied… An event can be communicated, it becomes information, one can give precise data on the place and time of its occurrence” (22). This sounds like a good if general description of some narrative cartography projects that, for instance, map the trajectories of protagonists in novels. Clearly, the chronotope is a concept that holds great potential for understanding and theorizing the nature of narrative and cinematic cartography. The chronotope was first used by Einstein in his Theory of Relativity, but Bakhtin applies it mainly to the analysis of the novel. However, several writers have extrapolated this usage to other areas such as film studies and geography. In this paper, I extend the chronotope to what I will call chronotopic cartography, as a process of mapping that considers time as well as space. Normally, a map is a representation of space, one that rarely considers time. How can time be integrated into a map? In practices of cinematic cartography, this seems an especially relevant question, since time is the defining trait of cinema. This study can be framed as an inquiry into chronotopical analysis, both theoretically and practically, by experimenting with representations of time and space through both cinematic cartography (the plotting of cinematographic places) and cartographic cinema (the representation of place through film). This type of analysis represents a new kind of inquiry, incorporating data analysis that extracts settings and locations from films, digital mapping, and time-based media. It is an attempt to move beyond the technical abstractions that can characterize the use of placemarkers on maps that is commonly found in narrative and cinematic cartography, which, while useful for highlighting the spatialities of stories, can also be overly reductive. To push beyond this technical abstraction, I attempt to work towards a more “heterotopic” screen space that, as Michael Chanan suggests, allows for a cinematic documentary approach of montage, of “discontinuities, both spatial and temporal,” within the map (12). As a case study, I will look at specific representations of Montreal in cinema, especially Denis Arcand’s Jesus of Montreal and Days of Darkness. Using scenes depicting recognizable settings from these films, I incorporate film clips, Google Street View and the more traditional overhead map view into “map-films.” This chronotopic analysis is thus proposed as a hybrid of film space and map space that extends current forms of cartographic inquiry into cinematographic landscapes, and represents the results in a medium that more adequately supports the content. Through montage, both time and space can be incorporated into the representation of the narrative. This paper will lay out some tenets of chronotopic cartography along with some video clips or “map-films” that explore what some prototypes might look like. Bibliography Bakhtin, M.M. 2002. “Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel: Notes towards a Historical Poetics.” In Narrative dynamics: essays on time, plot, closure, and frames, edited by Brian Richardon. Ohio; Ohio State University. Chanan, Michael. 2000. “The Documentary Chronotope.” In Jump Cut 43: 56-61.