What is map art? While I’ve posted a few entries on the subject of maps and art, it's not something I'e really stopped to think about. An artist's work or installation incorporates maps. Good enough for me: post it. But what else is included? Do we include, for example, the Tube Map, or a nicely done topo map series, for their elegance of design? Does a consideration of every map's aesthetic side make all maps art to some extent?
One of the things academics do is think carefully about the things that we normally take for granted. In this context, the special art issue of Cartographic Perspectives --the winter 2006 issue--; forced me to stop and think about the use of maps in contemporary art. The issue contains four essays on the topic of art and mapping, and each one is different, revealing just how broad a topic this really is. For Denis Wood and Dalia Varanka, mapping is ubiquitous; but where Wood sees map art as a challenge to institutionalized mapmaking, Varanka rejects a strictly political view of map art and focuses on mapping as "a cognitive and cultural universal." Meanwhile, kanarika, of the psychogeographical Institute for Infinitely Small Things, and John Krygier, who is well known to us, look at the performance side of things--kanarika from the perspective of psychogeography and guerrilla performances, Krygier by looking at the performance implications of the interactive City of Memory web site.
Design vs. aesthetics, performance vs. installation. It's a bigger, more problematized field than I thought.