Map Art*


Fundamentally, cartography is about mapping environments, experiences and information; or 3D volumes 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 and actually function as maps—they have a job to do!

Modern tools open up the possibilities for new visualisations and representations. However, we must take care to recognise and distinguish between an approach that is purely artistic, reflecting only the personal aims and desires of the author / artist alone, as opposed to an approach centred on design conventions, user experience, functionality and a client brief. It’s a fascinating and alternative field of work—one that allows us to re-evaluate and re-frame our perceptions of space and place, both internal and external, and the agency of mapping.

We are particularly interested in map forms created out of ‘generative’ methodologies; the outputs of custom scripts, algorithms and routines of programming languages. There is often a discernible and captivating pattern and sense in the seeds of randomness. At the same time, this hints at possibilities for the evolution of cartographic practice which will be revealed through artificial intelligence (AI) in the design and production of maps.