How to fabricate a kamal

A kamal is an old celestial navigation device useful for determining Polaris’ latitude only in equatorial latitudes. This instrument is a limited device that is composed of a small wooden table with a hole in its middle, a string with several knots, human eyes and teeth, the horizon, the Pole Star, a particular geographical space, and a set of knowledge on fundamental astronomy, math, and navigation. Also, a kamal usually includes either a boat or a ship.

A kamal is an old celestial navigation device useful for determining Polaris’ latitude only in equatorial latitudes. This instrument is a limited device that is composed of a small wooden table with a hole in its middle, a string with several knots, human eyes and teeth, the horizon, the Pole Star, a particular geographical space, and a set of knowledge on fundamental astronomy, math, and navigation. Also, a kamal usually includes either a boat or a ship.

As a kamal, this section is also a limited device. Its scope is not going further than presenting this whole monograph and discussing the consolidation —and solidification— of this work’s study object. As a kamal, it required human eyes but mouth and hands instead of teeth. As a kamal, this document aims to orient the reader through a particular, unstable, and effervescent geography: a mediated set of spaces, practices, and situations collected mostly happening in Times Square.

The limitation of this device is not only based on its particular vision but also on its possibility of application. That is a shared particularity with the rest of this document. This kamal was designed only for working on a specific spatiality, following a well-defined kind of actors, and in a delimited temporality. It means that all the results, generalizations, and attempts to theorize and create either laws, postulates, recipes, or recommendations could fail —and there is a higher possibility of that happening— once there are applied in other contexts and latitudes.

This kamal’s main objective is to help the user of this dissertation move around the whole document and navigate this sort of imbricate structure composed of different infrastructures with their logics, formats, and ways of presenting their content. The general organization of this piece of research was made following a strict hierarchical composition. So, we have a reverse pyramid architecture, in an abstract and general way: chapter > section > passage.

However, that sort of structured structure will be continuously broken or disrupted by the emergence of new paths and associations proposing new routes, new adventures, and new possible scenarios where to land. You will find vignettes, inserts, and hyperlinks that, if you accept to follow them, will transporting you to other locations, different moments, temporalities, and situations inside Times Square, I mean, inside this version of Times Square.

The document you are reading today is not only about the deconstruction and the representation of an open public place, but it is also inspired in its logic and structure by way of being of that particular location. It means that this dissertation was conceived and constructed as an attempt to interpret and to repeat the movements and flows of a bounded and limited part of the world outside. We face a sort of onomatopoeic experiment based on collecting, compiling, overlapping, and confronting different versions, timeframes, spatialities, and materials concerning what we understand as Times Square.

That is why a navigation gear like this kamal is more than necessary here. And although this device is not aiming to offer you any single route to take, it promises to keep you safe and oriented through the way you decide to go. Thus, this kamal is composed of a set of cartographic elements or table of instructions (artifact 01-a) and this short introduction to using this device itself.