Essentially, cartography is about mapping environments, experiences and information; a 3d volume transformed to a 2d surface. It depicts various ‘realities’ to engage us in narratives of space. It’s a complex task that often resorts to certain conventions in communication theory that allows us all to participate. These conventions can create a more normative approach in representation. For example, rivers, roads and mountains are often shown in readily understandable styles to ensure they are understood by as wide an audience as possible.
Our imagination together with modern tools opens up the possibilities for new visualisations, though we must take care to recognise and distinguish between an approach that is purely artistic, reflecting the desires of the author / artist alone, as opposed to an approach centred on design conventions and a client brief. It is for that reason I seperate out work that is purely artistic as it cannot be compared in any meaningful way with work that is tightly constrained by design norms, client brand guielines, a defined audience, etc; comparing apples and oranges if you like. It’s a fascinating and alternative field of work that it equally relelvant, and one that enables us to re-evaluate and re-frame our perceptions of space.
There are hundreds of artists out there whose work can be described as having a cartographic (or mapping) influence and presentational style, including: Lu Xinjian, Torben Giehler, Erik Laffer, Robert Walden, David Maisel and Mathew Emmett. These, and many others, are all worth exploring further.
Jason’s own mapping projects that are of an artistic nature will be viewable at Map Art Studio in due course.