More Mapishness

Lately, we've been obsessed with maps. Not just as visual representations, though we find these quite sexy as well, worthy of hours of lusty contemplation about all the places we've been and all the places we would like to go. But maps, besides being fetish objects for a very, very slim minority of the population, they are also ways of viewing and interacting with the world, space, politics, landscape, well, everything really. Traditionally the map concentrates on a limited data set in order to filter out excess data that's not useful for a particular task. Though I've always been titillated by Baudrillard's Borges reference in Simulations (I've never been able to find the original story):

If we were able to take as the finest allegory of simulation the Borges tale where the
cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up exactly covering the
territory (but where, with the decline of the Empire this map becomes frayed and finally
ruined, a few shreds still discernible in the deserts - the metaphysical beauty of this ruined
abstraction, bearing witness to an imperial pride and rotting like a carcass, returning to the
substance of the soil, rather as an aging double ends up being confused with the real thing),
this fable would then have come full circle for us, and now has nothing but the discrete charm
of second-order simulacra.

Everyday new maps are invented for new purposes previously unforseen, when Amerigo Vespucci was tricking his way into naming a continent, there's no way the world's cartographers could have even begun to foresee a map of the world's country code web domains...

or this map of the Lunar walk of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin

or (another subset of our obsession) speculative and imaginary maps like this one of the lands of temperance and alcohol (we know where we live)...

Each new generation of maps from the earliest ones scratched into an earth with a stick or the latest nifty, digital topographies, literally is a map of how human beings interact with, well, everything.

Many of these maps were taken from fellow map obsessive blog Strange Maps.

1 comment:

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