Experimental Cartography: Maps as Art

Posted on August 9, 2012


Maps don’t only tell us where we are or where we are going.  They give us history lessons.  They make bold statements about human development and how geography reflects the human experience, politics, and more.  Bet you never thought maps could do all that.  Today, MarketMAPS looks at some artists who have used maps to make artistic statements, calling their movement Experimental Cartography.

Originally, map making had a certain level of artistry inherent in it.  Map makers knew that adding artistic creativity to their maps could enhance their effect.  Now, with experimental cartography, things have turned around: artists are using maps as tools to further their artistic visions.

Maps are both conceptual tools and abstract representations.  As author Katharine Harmos puts it: ‘Is there any motif so malleable, so ripe for appropriation, as maps? They can act as shorthand for ready metaphors: seeking location and experiencing dislocation, bringing order to chaos, exploring ratios of scale, charting new terrains.

Matthew Cusick’s 2005 work, ‘Fiona’s Wave,’ uses pieces of atlases dated from 1872-1945.

Recognize the continent pictured above?  Schoenaerts, a conceptual photographer living in Amsterdam, constructs countries and continents out of clothing.

In 2002, China’s Long March Project embarked upon a ‘Walking Visual Display’ along the route of the 1934-1936 historic 6000-mile Long March, and Beijing-based artist Qin kept tracked the group’s route in a tattooed map on his back. Three years later, Qin continued the trek where the original marchers had left off, accompanied by a camera crew and a tattoo artist, who continually updated the map on Qin’s back.

You don’t have to get a tattoo or create a collage to enjoy the beauty and artistry of maps.  MarketMAPS publishes the broadest selection of maps for use in the home or office.  Our wall maps are high quality products that display areas with as much detail as you’d like.  Get a map of your home town, your favorite place to visit, the location you met your significant other; display it proudly with one of our beautiful finishing options.

Contact MarketMAPS today and discover how our maps can suit your décor needs


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Image 1 via mapsales.com, Image 2 via img0.etsystatic.com, Image 3,4,5 via brainpickings.org, Image 6 via marketmaps.com