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Inclusive cartography: Ensuring that Art is not excluded from contemporary cartography artefact design and realisation.
Understanding how technology works is important, but the partnership between art and science, and their contributions to the discipline, are as important. In my opinion ART provides the 'public face' of cartography (and if we include the cartographer's passion when designing particular products, perhaps the soul as well) and science complements this by ensuring that what is presented is scientifically correct, and what could be called 'scientifically elegant' as well. Science or technology, it is argued, needs not always to take on the primary roles in cartography. However, technology is needed to ensure that the designed product can be produced and delivered and science is necessary to ensure 'correct' and rigorous products. However, the resulting artifact, designed and produced by balancing the art, science and technology attributes, as a street artist juggler might balance a chainsaw, a watermelon and a table tennis ball, has recently been biased towards science and technology, with art being relegated to the position of 'afterthought' (thinking about the art elements after the product's specifications are 'locked' within a science foundation and technology-driven production and delivery 'envelope'. Cartography is different from other contemporary disciplines insofar as it can design, develop and deliver products with an art or a technology or a science 'flavour'. But we need to address how to make ART-biased cartography as relevant as science or technology-biased cartography.
ART AND CARTOGRAPHY
CARTOGRAPHY AND ART
To explain the interest I take in the relation of cartography and art today I would like to refer to Umberto Eco's text "On the Impossibility of Drawing a Map of the Empire on a Scale of 1 to 1". Eco describes the hopeless attempt to create a map which represents the world in the same scale and this attempt proves that there is no such thing like a true map. And when we accept the fact that all maps only function under the premise of ommitting or distorting parts of reality we can see that there is not such a large gap between scientific and artistic cartography. In fact sometimes artists capture a lot of information in their maps which the cartographers "rational" map could never describe. Even if artists at first sight seem to have more freedom the strategies of mapping are very similar in arts as in cartography.
The rational and irrational should not be simply divided up between the scientific and the artistic, in fact we can see beyond the clichee that reality always consists of both.
And that's what maps are about, and what makes them so intriguing: they are communicating views of our world – and help us to understand the complexity of it.
If we succed to look over the borders of our discipline and understand different ways of defining place we might finally arrive to learn how to represent the world much better than a "perfect" representation of the same size would do. Even if Google earth is becoming more and more precise it is only one possible representation of the world from a very special angel. The only way we can get closer to a complete representation of the world is by communicating on different models of representation and precision.
CARTOGRAPHY AND ART
ART AND CARTOGRAPHY
Maps tell stories about the world. To be more precise, they depict parts of the space around us and represent it. The main keywords being applicable to this process are abstraction, scale and communication. Abstraction is needed to pinpoint the relevant information about real and virtual objects and phenomenas. In this process the information becomes both, more fuzzy as well as more visible. This is due to the context of scale. Maps are representing space in an aggregated form. In order to be able to communicate aggregated and abstract representations of space aesthetics play a key role. All three challenges, abstraction – scaling – communication of space, are interpreted by artist with specific view and ideas. The exchange of artistic and scientific approaches might lead to heterogenous results, but will be an exiting experiment for those who are willing to get involved.