- I Map Therefore I Am Modern
- Cartography and global modernity in the visual arts
- Award date
- 23 June 2017
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
Over the last century, a multitude of visual artists have turned to mapping for their work’s formal and thematic substance. This study is devoted to this field of “map art”. Recognising how mapmaking has been tied up historically with institutions and processes of global modernity, it presents map art as a privileged site at which to explore themes from utopian urbanism, through uneven development, to positivist rhetorics of science and specialism. Through sustained analyses of works by six artists, the study makes two main arguments. The first shows how map art plays out, and puts to the test, some founding figures and narratives of rupture through which global modernity is widely imagined. In doing so, it builds an account of the modern ontology underlying cartography: the “ontology of calculability”, which casts the world as a measurable, malleable and uniformly extended objective space.
Having described this ontology, the study identifies map art’s significance in relation to broader shifts in contemporary mapping. Existing accounts focus on how map art reclaims mapping from professional control as part of a broader social diffusion of cartography consequent on digitisation. This study, by contrast, warns that digital mapping largely reproduces the ontology of calculability. The second main argument, therefore, is that map art’s value rests less in how it “takes the map back” from institutional control, than in how it imagines mapping otherwise, displacing the ontological assumptions through which modern institutions laid claim to exclusive authority in mapping in the first place.
Thesis (complete) (Embargo up to and including 23 June 2019)
Introduction (Embargo up to and including 23 June 2019)
Part I: Maps and modern world-making (Embargo up to and including 23 June 2019)
Part II: Artists astride shifting mapping paradigms (Embargo up to and including 23 June 2019)
Envoi (Embargo up to and including 23 June 2019)
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