What is Contemporary Art Actually Mapping?

The article, titled “What Is Contemporary Art Actually Mapping?” is a very interesting read. It certainly expanded my thoughts of exactly what a map does. It dissects the definition of what a map is and takes all of the elements and applies it to other means. I thought the most interesting part was Paisley Rekdal’s mapping of Salt Lake City through the stories of her students. It gives the viewers a whole new sense of what’s where, as well as some of the history of the town, and the town’s people.

Nato Thompson, Geography as Art

This article highlighted the effects that we have on the world around us, and then, how the world around us shapes us as a whole, and labeling the manipulation of the medium of mapping as “experimental geography.” The reading goes into even more depth and talks about how not only does the world shape us, but that our behaviors are a result of the world around us, and how we move through it. This goes on to another conclusion through the works of Walter Benjamin and Michel de Certeau about the city road expansion in Paris under Napoleon III and its pedestrians of the time, who reaches the conclusion that culture is produced through space, and how space, inversely, can create new cultural changes.

West Wing – Why are we Changing Maps

This was a very interesting video. It highlighted the influence of size of countries on their citizens, as well as outside citizens. The results were that maps indicated as having a bigger physical size, made the citizens feel as though their country was more important. And that smaller, third-world countries were ultimately, insignificant. Ultimately, they decide to change the maps, in order to create a bigger sense of equality amongst the observing citizens.

University of California Press Interview with Rebecca Solnit

This audio-log with Rebecca Solnit deals with how humans perceive physical pictures, rather than words. One of the examples she used was the murders of 99 people in San Francisco. Rather than telling the readers where they were, she created a map of the city with marked places where all of the murders have taken place. Altogether, all of the collective marks gave the appearance of a shotgun-spread buckshot. She says that this method is nor only more effective to understanding the inhumane nature of the murders, but was also created a more immediate understanding. The viewers could understand much quicker seeing the map, rather than reading 99 descriptions.


Paul Pfeiffer, Art 21 video link

It was very interesting to see how Paul Pfeiffer’s manipulation of the media affects the viewer, often messing with their sense of perception. His stairway piece manipulates the viewers sense of physical size of the piece, and viewpoints. Ultimately, the viewer ends up looking at both ends of the stairway, conveying his idea that he described in his favorite childhood movie, where the human inhabitants and the non-human inhabitant, the Devil, exchange gazes at one another. It was also interesting to see how his “erasing” of human figures in his video footage messes with the viewers sense of context, leaving the viewer to not fully understand what is going on, or why. This is meant to strike a desire in the viewer to know what’s going on. Pfeiffer wanted to do that, in order to make the viewers realize just how big of consumers we really are.

Robert Rauschenberg, Erased De Kooning video link

Rauschenberg’s story of how he acquired one of Willem De Kooning’s pictures, and the thought process that he had to go through in order to come up with the idea was very interesting. He had to think of the picture first, as a completed work, and then visualize how to take away from it. It was also very surprising at the amount of effort and time that he had to go through in order to erase a work, as opposed to creating one.

The Revelation of Erasure by Brian Dillon link

Brian Dillon’s essay about the different conclusions can draw from taking something out of the picture points toward and interesting conclusion. He is stating that by taking something away from a piece of art, you can actually end up creating something in that piece of art, and in the viewer. Whether it be a reaction, an expectation, or creating mindless confusion, the act of taking something out of a picture, can actually end up adding more to the picture, in its own sense.