Dissertation Defense Simon Ferdinand: I Map Therefore I Am Modern. Maps and Global Modernity in the Visual Arts.
Supervisors: Jeroen de Kloet and Esther Peeren, Agnietenkapel, 23 June, 12.00 hrs.
Over the last century, a multitude of visual artists have turned to mapping. Recognising how mapmaking has been tied up with institutions and processes of global modernity, this study presents the field of “map art” as a privileged site at which to explore themes from utopian urbanism, through uneven development, to positivist rhetorics of scientific authority. Through sustained analyses, it shows how map art plays out, and puts to the test, some founding figures and narratives of rupture through which global modernity is imagined.
It also identifies map art’s significance amid broader shifts in contemporary mapping. Some argue that map art reclaims mapping from professional control as part of a broader social diffusion of cartography consequent on digitisation. This study, though, cautions that digital mapping largely reproduces the calculable, objective and uniform spatial ontology inherited from modern cartography. Map art’s value, it follows, rests less in how it “takes the map back” from institutional control, than in how it imagines mapping otherwise, displacing the ontology from which cartographic institutions derived their authority in the first place.
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