Jorge Luis Borges tells of a popular story using only one paragraph. It is about a cartography guild within an Empire that created a very accurate map resulting to a large artwork – as large as the entire Empire. The story is the best representation of how traditional maps should be made – it should be able to represent the area depicted by showcasing as much accuracy as humanly possible. It also shows how limits exist when it comes to achieving this feat. It is impossible for a map to be exactly made as how it is in reality and they are considered to be only radical abstractions to represent the real earth. People accept the radical abstractions made by cartographers but in the end, fighting and argument ensues because it does not exactly how that person interprets the world in his perspective.
You might wonder how maps will look if the creators are given liberties in creating these abstractions instead of following the exact parameters that is considered acceptable when developing the representation. What will these resulting maps be able to convey to the viewers? This is what the new exhibit is all about at the Gallery Wendi Norris entitled Seeking Civilization: Art ad Cartography. It showcases the artworks created by seven different artists who are given the liberty and goes beyond the limit of cartography.
The centerpiece of the exhibit is called Miguel Angel Rios which is a 10-foot-long version of the Le Premier Voyage a L’iconnu (1992-93). The enlarged map is displayed in pleated canvas and it was made back in 1500. It is not possible to distinguish the entire contents of the map because of the presence of pleating but the masterpiece stemmed from the interest of the artist who is born in Argentina and the piece conveys a concept from Latin America. The map is said to have come from the Spanish conquest during their first decade in the Western Hemisphere. There are other remarkable map illustrations showcased at the exhibit such as the Study for Voyage (2012) by Val Britton, Paths of Love by Omar Mismar and Recounting (2011) by Taraneh Hemami.