Deborah MacPherson
Since 2005
Works in Vienna United States of America

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Structure of Art

I looking for advice on behalf of Accuracy&Aesthetics, a nonprofit organization based in Vienna VA. We are working on an online interactive to use as a gateway to various internet resources. The first page of this website is envisioned as a visual map that lets users follow something like hiking trails into topics they are interested in.

Basically, we have brought together a group of artists and scientists to create a prototype. One of the first tasks is to create a "base map" showing where each of the project participants is coming from both geographically and conceptually. This base map is composed of several layers. The first layer is a cartographic map literally showing dots on a 2D map of our planet indicating the cities where each of our board members, consultants, and project participants reside. Next is a layer showing the history of each person branching out to previous exhibitions, other places they have lived or worked etc. You are able to click on any particular person, place, or point in time to see what is connected.

Next is a discipline map. On one level I have access to an extremely accurate structure of science based on citations between papers, funding programs, patents, conference proceedings and other relationships between work over set periods of time. By putting this information into an algorithm, the author was able to create a structure that "puts" mathematics next to computer science, biology next to health care and basically creates proximities between various disciplines of science. In general, it looks like lines and dots in clusters but it makes sense and is interesting to look at even to non-scientists.

What I am seeking advice for is a corresponding art structure to "place" the work of the artists in context just like each person can be a dot on the cartographic map, and the scientists can be placed on the structure of science. This would be a massive overview - high up. Not various styles of painting broken down but painting overall, sculpture, performance, music, digital art. Broad subject matters in fields.

When the envisioned model can be demonstrated, it will serve as a guide to the great ideas and the best digital content available over the internet. It will be a new way of looking. However, to complicate it even further, eventually this structure is also meant to show endeavors that may not be classified as advances or able to be connected or mapped as various disciplines within art or science might be. For example cooking, gardening, war mongering and infinite other human activities that happen sooner or later in all cultures, all disciplines, all time periods.

The problem is, when creating the "art side" or even the "all of humanity's knowledge and expertise" view too many items are arbitrarily placed in proximity. These relationships will not be initially based on facts as the science structure and cartographic maps are. That is why I am writing, to see if any readers can recommend an expert know-it-all or suggest resources to validate these maps rather than just arbitrarily making them.

Any suggestions are truly appreciated.


Deborah MacPherson, Projects Director
Accuracy&Aesthetics, A Nonprofit Organization for the
Advancement of Education, Cultural Heritage, and Science
mailing address: PO Box 52, Vienna VA 22183 USA