The Map as Raw Material

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Session Title:

  • Technology (Papers)

Presentation Title:

  • The Map as Raw Material

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Abstract:

  • Cartography is living through an Era of Abundance and Waste. There was a time when mapmaking was a laborious craft, involving many years of research, calculation and skill – and even so, it produced nothing more than the approximation of a route, subject to successive revisions. Nowadays, though, it is enough to move around with a cell phone in one’s pocket and, thanks to discrete triangulations of signal, mapping is as precise as inevitable.But if all the continents have already been discovered and there are no new places to explore, what purpose must one give to this surplus of representation?     Perhaps Google will soon have on cartography the same effect that photography had on painting in the late 19th century: first, freeing maps from the burden of realistic imitation; then, legitimizing their character as exercises of formal or political imagination.Following this hypothesis, this essay examines the work of three young Brazilian artists: Daniel Escobar, Marina Camargo and Andrei Thomaz. It is my intention to show how their particular poetic strategies subvert conventional semiotic forms such tourist guides, architectural models, GPS positioning and Google’s fractal maps. By appropriating these forms either as material substances, diagrammatic rules, or technical ensembles, the artists suggest self‑reflexive means of world‑making that pierce through the standard regimes of spatial representation.

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