Do you remember the last time you looked at a map? Excluding the GPS app on your mobile device, it's probably been a while since you gazed upon the feats of cartography that populated your history textbooks and vintage road trip guides. Thankfully, critic and curator extraordinaire Hans Ulrich Obrist is here to remind the world that geography once existed in a state of static, free of pixelated glitches and digital inaccuracies.
In a project titled "Mapping it Out: An Alternative Atlas of Contemporary Cartography," Obrist asked 130 contemporary artists, architects, scientists and designers to reimagine the concept of the map. From renderings of the physical world to abstract images that attempt to navigate the spaces inside our minds, the stunning visualizations turn scientific data and condensed topography into contemporary artworks.
Michael Craig-Martin: Globalisation, 2011
Warning: As one might expect from artists like Yoko Ono, Ed Ruscha, Damien Hirst, and Anish Kapoor, the maps provide an unconventional take on the practice of cartography. Forget simple, color-coded surveys, these reinvented charts blur the lines between reality and fantasy, information and abstraction.
"Maps don’t work, and never have," author Tom McCarthy postures in the book's introduction. "Projections are not neutral, natural or ‘given’; they are constructed, configured, underpinned by various -– and quite arbitrary –- conventions... All maps carry with them a certain claim; that this one is somehow truer than the others with which it competes.”
Go ahead, try and decipher the arbitrary brain maps and human disease networks below. For those infatuated with Obrist's homage to classification, check out the Thames & Hudson offering here.