Were you inspired by our Cartography issue? Check out Emotional Cartography, a free collection of essays focused on visualizing biometric data and emotional experiences using technology. Full of essays by artists, psychogeographers, futurologists and neuroscientists, including Raqs Media Collective and Sophie Hope, this PDF is the perfect little holiday present for your brain…check it out!
The themes explored in visual artist Anna Fine Foer’s work are diverse and ambitious, and span the spectrum from religion and politics, to ecology and social issues. But while the conversation in each piece varies, they all share a common visual language in that they’re carefully constructed, layer upon layer, with maps.
The artist first discovered the technique in an abstract painting class, where instead of paint, she decided on maps as her medium. Her choice of materials was purposeful on a number of levels, as a means to multiple ends. Practically speaking, the visual characteristics lent themselves for use in a variety of subject matters: the color and pattern could represent land, architecture, sky, water. The texture could create the effect of marble on a building. But conceptually, it opened many doors for the artist as well.
As Fine Foer understands it, “A map is an abstraction that we accept as standing for a place.” In speaking with GLIMPSE, she recalled a plane trip to Los Angeles during which she compared an airline-provided map with the terrain below, and found the difference between the two striking. It was a poignant moment in her exploration of maps as an abstraction of place, which could then be manipulated further to construct collaged abstractions of landscape.
As the artist’s map abstractions date back to 1979, she’s witnessed a technological evolution that fundamentally shifts the way people understand and relate to cartography. And as is the case for many artists, it’s also offered new methods by which she’s able to physically construct her work — methods she embraces, but only to a degree. Reflecting on her workflow, she explains, “It’s important to me that it’s still very constructed [by hand], that the craftsmanship is still there. I can appropriate and manipulate [the maps] in Photoshop, but that’s as far as I want to go.” This desire for tangibility directly relates to the artist’s stance on cartography in the face of changing technologies in the field; she doesn’t use a GIS device for travelling, and worries about the fate of the physical map. But on the other hand, the artist admits that technology has undoubtedly made it easier to find materials, “beautiful, historic maps,” by searching for them online.
When it comes to the raw materials, whether their origins are an historic atlas or the web, the artist is in no short supply, and we at GLIMPSE intend to sit back and watch the collection grow.
Excerpt of Anna Fine Foer’s Artist Statement:
My artwork is map collage that offers the viewer a combination of imaginary landscapes with mystical, scientific and ecological themes. The visual description of a three-dimensional world on a flat plane is conjoined with the depiction of the metaphysical.
Maps that I incorporate into collages may be part of the regional, geographic, geological or religious narratives; boundaries may have been altered in hopes of furthering certain ends. Usually there is more than one story a map can convey.
My work also has more than one story to tell. I may be trying to both describe the curve of the earth on a flat piece of paper and using maps to blur the boundaries between the natural and the manufactured/technological world, representing simultaneously land, sky, water and architecture.
Be sure to chart your course over to Anna Fine Foer’s website, here. And while on your way, why not check out GLIPMSE‘s latest issue on Cartography, where you’ll find more musings on, and celebrations of, maps.
“It’s the kind of thing seen in Hollywood’s ‘Matrix’ franchise.”
The National Science Foundation’s analogy comparing the futuristic blockbuster to current visual learning research might initially seem hyperbolic, but researchers at Boston University and the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan have proved once again that it’s only a matter of time before science fiction can become science fact.
In “The Matrix,” the know-how for martial arts or flying helicopters can be downloaded directly into a passive recipient’s brain, and Voila! The body syncs up and starts performing the “learned” tasks in no time. Back in reality, the December 8th issue of the journal Science published a paper by Kazuhisa Shibata, Takeo Watanabe, Yuka Sasaki, and Mitsuo Kawato in which they present their latest research on visual perceptual learning (VPL). Their findings reveal that it’s possible to target the brain wave patterns of experts like athletes and musicians, and then to induce these patterns in a passive subject’s brain through visual stimuli. The result: participants improve their performance of a task.
Here at GLIMPSE, we continue to marvel at how the strides taken in understanding how we see can fundamentally influence the practice of learning.
There’s no question. It’s a part of human nature to be awed by that which we perceive to be beyond the threshold of common understanding. Instances of “supernatural” experiences mystify long past the time of their occurrence, and seem to gain new layers of mythos and spiritual reverence with time.
But what if this type of human experience could be replicated in a lab environment? This hypothesis was tested by Dr. Michael A. Persinger, using his Koren helmet, also known as the “God Helmet,” for the effects it produced in the participants of Dr. Persinger’s studies.
The “God Helmet” works by isolating specific patterns of brain activity using weak magnetic fields that stimulate the hemispheres of the human brain in atypical ways. The results of Dr. Persinger’s studies yielded fascinating results. He notes:
The specific type of sensed presence varied with the person’s expectancies, beliefs, and of course, the patterns of the electromagnetic fields that were applied. The characteristics of the experiences were dominated by intense personal meaningfulness and altered perceptions of space and time, classic properties of right hemispheric processing. We have suggested that the sensed presence is the transient left hemispheric awareness of the right hemisphere’s equivalence to the sense of self.
So the suggestion is: awareness of God, on a neurological level, could actually be an enhanced awareness of self. It’s a provocative thought, and one worth chewing on. Readers, we’d love to hear your take.
The article, “The Simulation of the God Experience” by M. A. Persinger, was published in GLIMPSE’s “Visions” issue and can be accessed here.
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Armelle Caron takes maps apart and puts them back together again--in a different order. Caron's diptychs read like the "before" and "after" of a messy desk, at first navigable only by the familiar owner, and then, once organized, understood easily by all. She plays with comprehension and incomprehension, order and disorder, for just as she robs city blocks of their initial meaning, she gifts each shape with new meaning, with a place among the ranks, ordered by size, stacked in style. Frank Jacobs thoughtfully addresses Caron's work in his Big Think blog, Strange Maps: "The city is hung out to dry by its smallest constituent parts. The cartographic compact - maps, however imperfect and partial on paper, are reliable real-world guides - is nullified. The city is un-mapped. Is it therefore also de-coded? The former term implies a loss of information: the city is disassembled, put in storage. The latter suggests a revelation of hidden knowledge: the fragments are pieces of an urban puzzle." Interested in more of Caron's work? Check out her website. Interested in more on maps and meaning? Check out our latest issue, Cartography.
With the current issue of GLIMPSE, we bring you a highlight of the American Antiquarian Society’s online exhibition, “Beauty, Virtue & Vice: Images of Women in Nineteenth-Century American Prints.” The exhibit’s curator reflects on the work, saying that, “although prints are often works of imagination . . . they still have much to tell us about the time and place in which they were created.” Georgia Barnhill of the AAS finds one print particularly telling, and explains why in “Cartography.”
In “Open Country of Woman’s Heart,” the American publisher D. W. Kellogg & Company capitalized on the convergence of technology, literary trends, and the spirit of exploration (not to mention a healthy dose of 19th century chauvinism) in the decades leading up to the Civil War. The result is a road map of a woman’s emotional core, where her “Love of Dress” dwarfs her “Good Sense,” and beyond the bounds of her heart lies only “Oblivion.”
Huffington Post readers took the print as an opportunity to envision their own interior (21st-century) landscapes. How about it, GLIMPSE readers? How do your internal maps compare?