Month: January 2009

Maps, Art, Stereotypes and Controversies

BELGIUM-EU-CZECH-EXHIBITION Here is an interesting example of how the interaction between art and cartography can become quite controversial. The sculpture of Czech artist David Cerny maps out the major stereotype associated to each European country. Looking at this succession of maps of clichés, the question remains: is it a subtle way of conveying multiple meanings in what may seem at first a bunch of very simplistic cliché maps? Or is it just a bunch of very simplistic cliché maps?
Thanks to Tracey Lauriault for pointing out this controversy.


Against the Map. (Contra el mapa)


Writen by Estrella de Diego, a well-known specialist in contemporary art, this recent essay kicks off  with the world map altered by french surrealists in 1929. Short essay, but very dense and interesting pages. The only bad news; it’s only in Spanish so far. Rights for English publishing seem to be available anyway. Highly recommended.

” In 1929 the magazine Variétés published an unusual “Map of the World in the Times of the Surrealistic “, whose dislocated cartography, of surprising borders, was announcing other future questioning of the narrative practices agreed in our culture. Because transgressing the map is equivalent to revise the world, as the map is not but the product of certain design “à la carte” that is proposed and is imposed from the power. Following the track of the codified cartographies, the present book raises the use of the maps by the contemporary artists as a weapon against the established narratives and their traps, implicit and inherited.”

(taken from the publishers website)

Estrella de Diego. Contra el mapa. Disturbios en la geografía colonial de Occidente.
La Biblioteca Azul serie mínima. Editorial Siruela. 2008.

Database of Maps in Literature and Cinema

Here is a very interesting initiative from Giacomo Andreucci, Post-Doctoral fellow from Università di Bologna who is developing a database of maps appearing in literature, as well as in movies and TV productions.

The project Maps in Literature makes freely accessible to students and researchers a literary corpus of text quotations of maps ranging from the ancient classic world literature to the contemporary one. The project is meant as an open initiative and everyone interested in suggesting new quotations can contribute. To contribute please contact us at

Dr Strangelove - George C. Scott (aka General Turgidson) with the “big board” in the background showing in near real-time the position of the B52s flying toward their Soviet targets.

I am interested in Giacomo’s project because I have also been gathering cinematic map for about a decade. My favorite ones are the one from M (Fritz Lang 1931)  (as I believe it is the first “modern” map as it prefigures many of the current functions of contemporary digital cartography) as well as the one from Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) (as it forshadowed zooming capabilities and “jump” effect of contemporary Virtual Globes). I also like The Marauders Map from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Alfredo Cuarón 2004) as it clearly embodies the surveillance potential of digital cartography, and the “Big Board” in Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964), just because I love this movie.

I discuss these cinemaps and many others in an upcoming special issue of the Cartographic Journal dedicated to Cinematic Cartography (forthcoming May 2009). This collection will include some very interesting papers written by Teresa Castro, Tom Conley, Bill Cartwright and Thierry Joliveau (who has a great blog on geospatial technologies).Questo indirizzo e-mail è protetto dallo spam bot. Abilita Javascript per vederlo.
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