Cartography Between Art, Science & Politics
Public talk by Philippe Rekacewicz
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Onsite Gallery, 199 Richmond St. W.
Cartography Between Art, Science and Politics: an open door to manipulation or a tool for resisting power?
There is no such thing as an innocent map...
A fusion of disciplines: cartography has since long been torn between science and art. Both scientists and artists have claimed ownership of the discipline. This dispute will never been solved because of the very complexity of what a map really is: it uses data that has to be handled scientifically, it uses forms, colours, movements, in other words "artistic means" and so the same material has to be also handled artistically and aesthetically. All together, to produce a vision of the world as seen by the cartographer — an image which represents a specific position i.e. the way the cartographers sees, understands and interprets the world. In this respect, the map is fundamentally a political object.
It certainly has nothing to do with Reality, the Truth. This dynamic is an open door to manipulation and the use of the cartographic image as a propaganda tool, both from the dictator’s point of view as well as that of the activist. The map is a dialogue between reality and imaginary, taken in consideration that what is represented on a map has its roots in the reality, but like a fictional movie, it is deeply romanticized. It never represents reality, only the way we interpret it. The map is therefore an intellectual construction.
Philippe Rekacewicz is a cartographer and information designer. After completing his training as a geographer at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, he worked from 1988 to 2014 as a permanent staff for the monthly journal Le Monde Diplomatique. He concurrently directed, from 1996 to 2008, the Norwegian cartographic unity of the United Nations Programme for Environment (UNEP), the GRID-Arendal. A specialist in Geopolitics and International Relations, he addresses especially topics linked to migrations, refugees and populations’ forced displacements, as well as frontiers. He works at present on several socio-cartographic projects (public and private spaces, perception and representation of frontiers) and explores the links between cartography, art and politics, like the art’s contributions on maps’ production and the political uses of maps as objects of propaganda and manipulation. He also leads a research on the “new cartographic writings” and the emergency of radical, critical and experimental cartographies. Since 2006, he attends project of artistic mappings and political art in several European countries. He is associate researcher at the departement of Anthropology of the University of Helsinki (programme Crosslocation – Trade, Transit and Transport). He is the current editor of the research blog on mapping and visualizing Visionscarto http://visionscarto.net/
Diagrams of Power showcases art and design works using data, diagrams, maps and visualizations as ways of challenging dominant narratives and supporting the resilience of marginalized communities.
Featuring work by Joshua Akers, The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, Josh Begley, Joseph Beuys, Vincent Brown, Bureau d'études, Department of Unusual Certainties, W. E. B. Du Bois, Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman, Forensic Architecture, Iconoclasistas, Julie Mehretu, Lize Mogel, Ogimaa Mikana, Margaret Pearce, Laura Poitras, Philippe Rekacewicz and Visualizing Impact.
Exhibition runs July 11 to September 29, 2018.
Diagrams of Power is produced with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, OCAD University's Office of the Faculty of Design, Public Visualization Lab, Nexus Investments, Multi Touch Digital and Microsoft.
Diagram of Power's public workshops and research engagement events is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.