Extroverting Cartography. “Seensing” maps and data through art

Laura Lo Presti


Drawing attention to the “extroversion” of geographic language, in this paper I explore the proliferation of mapping and its spatial fragments outside geography and, specifically, in the fabric of contemporary art. Art theories and practices consistently involve, as an effect of the spatial turn, cartographic textures and grammars by differently highlighting the manifold functions, mediations and materializations of maps. Inspired by the engagement, particularly of women artists, with cartography, I discuss the artistic exploration of mapping through various interpretative categories such as “spatial (de)generation”, “temporal proximity”, “ecologism” and “dataism/datactivism”. Each notion often entails a distinctive practice of seeing (that is, observing and interpreting) and sensing (namely, feeling and materially experiencing) artistic mapping and data – which, woven together, may explicitly refer to what I term the practice of “seensing”. This way, multiple insights to art maps’ visuality, materiality and perception of space are given. In conclusion, I consider the pros and cons that an aesthetic encounter with mapping gives to geography and to its creative transformation.


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