Maps a study through Visual Culture, Ideology, and Technology
Submitted to; Hereford College of Arts In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of BA (Hons) Contemporary Applied Arts.
Validated by the University of Wales
Full word count: 9281 Edited word count: 7983
Chapter 1 Visual Culture and Ideology
Chapter 2 Maps and Ideology
Chapter 3 Maps and Knowledge
Chapter 4 Maps and Power
Chapter 5 Maps and Digital Technology
Illustrations Figure: 1.1 ‘Still life of Stoneware Jug, Wine Glass, Herring and Bread,’ Pieter Claesz, 1642. 1.2 ‘Your Country Needs You,’ Alfred Leete, 1914. 1.3 ‘Tiananmen Square,’ Beijing, China, 1989. 1.4 ‘Men at Work,’ / ‘Children Crossing’ Road Sign, Jock Kinnear and Margaret Calvert. 1.5 ‘Worcester,’ Lucy Salter, 2013. 1.6 ‘L’Europe des Points Noirs’, Henri Dron, Paris, 1869 2.1 2.2 2.3
2.7 2.8 2.9 2.10 2.11
Treasure Island Map. ‘House of Tudor 1485 – 1603,’ Genealogy Map (Family Tree). ‘How to Mind Map,’ Mind Map, based on Tony Buzan’s Mind Map Structure. ‘Presidential Election Map,’ America, 2012. ‘Malvern Hills’, Ordnance Survey, Worcester and The Malverns, 1984. ‘A World Safe for Sailors,’ a modern outline reconstruction of the 1569 map developed by Gerhardas Mercartor. ‘The Ebstorf Map,’ Kloster Ebstorf, 1300. ‘The Psalter Map,’ Westminster, 1265. ‘The Hereford Map,’ Richard of Haldingham and Lafford, 1285. ‘T and O’ Map formation. ‘Map of Nowhere,’ Grayson Perry, 2008.
3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4
‘McArthur Universal Corrective Map of the World,’ McArthur, 1979. ‘Asia – Usborne Children’s Encyclopaedia,’ 1986. ‘Africa – Kingfisher First Encyclopaedia,’ Brian Williams, 1994. ‘The Earth from Space, A satellite view of the world,’ Tom Van Sant, 1990.
4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4
‘Historic Pershore,’ Tourist Map. ‘The Salas del Mappamondo’, Palazzo Farnese, Caprarola. ‘Thomas, 14th Earl of Arundel, and his wife Alethea’, 1635. ‘Plan of the Parish of Smallburgh’, Bramford, Suffolk,John Darby, 1582. ‘Serio-Comic War Map’, Fred W. Rose, London 1877. ‘La Guerre est l’Industrie Nationale de la Prusses’ (War is the national industry of Prussia), Paris, 1917.
2.4 2.5 2.6
4.5 4.6 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5
‘England : The Lake District and Northern Pennines,’ Satellite image. SuperGeo GIS (Urban Disaster Prevention and Planning). Google map accessing GPS, 2013. TomTom, Sat Nav. ‘My Ghost’, Jeremey Wood, 2000-2009
5.6 5.7 5.8
GPS Drawing App, Micheal Wallace. 2012. ‘Memory Map,’ City of Memory, New York, Jake Barton ‘Worcester,’ Google Maps, 2013 (Video Label ticked)
Introduction Maps as part of our visual culture are acknowledged as tools for navigation, aids in understanding where you are and how to get to your destination. Underneath their visual format lies the process of mapping, the science and design which culminates into imagery many of us are in contact with every day. Within this study I intend to discover and analyse a variety of maps, picking apart what maps are, and looking at the processes which transform data into imagery. Personally I am interested in the concept of mapping, the idea of connecting or creating a relationship between information. Exploring how marks left within our world, such as cracks in the pavement could be perceived as a map of the surfaceâ€™s use, evidencing wear and erosion. Ideologies within maps are often left hidden; the user takes the information they need without regard to why the map was made or what itâ€™s trying to communicate. Examining different types of maps, such as historic medieval maps, artist interpretations or personal maps I will be analysing the ideologies within, just like a piece of art or design. Focussing on the most prominent ideologies within maps and their technological advancement in the digital age, evidencing maps influence over our perceptions of the world and our use of maps in a social manner. The idea of abstract mapping, with no relation to geographical information, is what inspires my own practice; involving the coding of data to produce a personal map. Undertaking this study will improve my knowledge of historic and contemporary mapping practices, which in turn will hopefully influence my own work. Chapter 1, Visual Culture and Ideology, introduces different forms of visual media, and how ideologies can be communicated through visual imagery. Different types of ideology are represented in examples through imagery, and the introduction of Maps as a form of Visual media. Following is Chapter 2, Maps and Ideology, which attempts to breakdown and question the common definition of what a map is. Their use and purpose is demonstrated, along with theoretical examples of their continuous development within our culture, and how maps and our use of them influence our perspective. Chapter 3, Maps and Knowledge, considers the way maps contain and communicate knowledge. Raises understanding of how cartographic science can obscure or distort the knowledge gained. Decisions made in creating a map, alter the perspective of the data used and how it will be viewed. Chapter 4, Maps and Power, focuses on the relationship between the ideologies of knowledge and power which are evident within maps and that maps can be tools for power, with reference to war, territory and propaganda. Within Chapter 5, Maps and Technology, informs of new technologies which have developed mapping in our current digital era. How maps are concentrated upon our social interactions and our use of them. Will digital maps continue to document history or will they be constantly updated, overwriting current knowledge.
Visual Culture and Ideology Visual imagery, from a photograph or the news, to a sign on the wall, helps construct our visual culture while simultaneously conveying an ideology. Visual media communicates ideas in a unique way; unlike text, visual information doesn’t require the skill of reading to be understood. As long as you can see; you will experience narrative through the visual elements of our world, hence the saying `seeing is believing’. Ryan  states it’s perhaps human nature to accept the imagery we see as a form of truth, particularly if the meaning is clear. Conversely people can be suspicious of words and their potential as tools of deception. This assumption of imagery, holding an obvious meaning, coupled with visual media’s association with pleasure and relaxation, is perhaps what makes visual imagery the perfect tool for communicating ideology. Imagery and the ideologies it portrays can influence our perception of a specific subject, group of people or even the whole world. As individuals our perceptions are influenced by our experiences and environment. From childhood we develop ways to communicate with images, stories capturing our imagination and inspiring our understanding of imagery. With narratives told through a visual format, unconscious associations are made between words and imagery. These cognitive connections help us to interpret visual images, form a perception of meaning, and shape our understandings and expectations of the outside world. It is important however, to recognise that not all visual imagery is based on a true reflection of the subject matter. Imagery may be based on philosophical ideas, symbolism and allusion.
Figure 1.1 – ‘Still life of Stoneware Jug, Wine Glass, Herring and Bread,’ Pieter Claesz, 1642. [Sturken, Cartwright. 2000. pg13]
Analysing the objects in this painting by Pieter Claesz, `Still Life with Stoneware Jug’ (figure 1.1) 1642, can reveal a deeper meaning and ideology within the image. It appears to be captured realistically yet is far from a technical exercise, the artist’s choice of objects represents ‘the transience of earthly life, through the ephemeral materiality of food’ [Sturken, Cartwright, 2000: 13]. The use of food within imagery, especially half eaten food, induces the memory of particular aromas and the action of eating, the food we see suggests a common meal from the period it was painted. Incorporating certain foods, such as fish, bread and wine, has religious connotations, referencing the Christian story of the ‘Last Supper.’ This is one example of how an artist can communicate ideology through imagery.
Figure 1.2 – ‘Your Country Needs You,’ Alfred Leete, 1914. [Wikipedia. 2013]
‘Ideologies are usually held by groups of people with a particular interest that is served by the ideology.’ [Ryan, 20120: 41]. For example the famous war campaign poster ‘Your Country Needs You,’ 1914, (figure 1.2) immortalised Lord Kitchener in a pose reaching out to individuals demanding they sign up for the war effort. This image influenced many to volunteer as the imagery made them feel that they were essential and personally responsible for the success of the war. As a form of advertising or propaganda, this image promotes the war effort in order to recruit more men; serving the government’s interest with an increase in soldiers available for combat. If the designer has a strong message to convey, to a wide audience, such as the ideology within the war campaign poster, the visual image needs to be appealing to, trusted by, the recipients in order to be well received. This is particularly relevant to advertising, where a visualisation of desire and aspiration is created to persuade the audience to want what is shown, whilst enabling the creator to exploit their own ends, by making increased sales, or in the case of the war poster an increase in recruits. Forms of propaganda where the image is intended to evoke an emotional response, to persuade or influence a reaction, must evidence strong ideology through visual representation to achieve its purpose.
Figure 1.3 – ‘Tiananmen Square,’ Beijing, China, 1989. [Museum.tv. 2013.]
Images which appeared in the media regarding the student protest in Tiananmen Square (figure 1.3), China 1989, for the right to free speech and free press, had a powerful impact in uniting public opinion across the world. This image represents the ideology of the contemporary Chinese government, as well as their society’s principles for a change in power, an image full of contrast, and a battle of ideology. China’s response to the protest resulted in the massacre of human life; which caused a global outcry. The image of the lone student in Tiananmen Square remains an iconic symbol, a memory of the worldwide struggle for democracy. This image is a window into the horrific tragedy of the events that day but also a symbol for democracy, standing up against the political powers. Visual imagery that we see everyday like road signs, also hold an ideology; a concept for how we live, and how we move socially through our world. However, road signage of the 1950s-1960s, as a result of different commissioners and designers, created a confusing environment. Jock Kinnear and Margaret Calvert, designers of graphic imagery, were determined to demonstrate this haphazard state of visual communication. The Government financed them to create a consistent set of signs for use across the country using carefully chosen shapes and colours to enable the signs to be easily recognised and understood at speed.
Figure 1.4 – ‘Men at Work,’ / ‘Children Cross’ Road Sign, Jock Kinnear and Margaret Calvert. [Design Museum.org. 2013]
The pictograms of `men at work,’ (figure 1.4) and `school crossing’ were designed to effectively communicate the language of the sign without using any words, for a more immediate impact. This visual imagery conveyed the idea of a consistent format to improve road safety. These signs evidence the power of imagery and our ability to cognitively connect images and words so that standardised signs across the country can be understood. The imagery is given a meaning, which the image itself comes to embody.
Figure 1.5 – ‘Worcester’ 20123, Lucy Salter.
Ideology within my own practice focuses on my personal sense of space, creating an abstract form of mapping. Worcester 2013 (figure 1.5) has a strong divide, between the two canvases and also the contrast in black to colour in each piece. This divide suggests a light and dark, good and bad scenario, one which relates to my view of Worcester. Divided by the River Severn, my home and family are located on one side thus my view of the other is less personal, like a town yet to be visited. Within my process of mapping, I translate words
associated with a place into binary coding. These component blocks organised together then create an aerial view of that place. Based on my associations, the map is personal, a map with no physical link to the geography of the place. The ideology within my work is the creation of a social map, a personal map, where all the information is hidden through code and only its visualisation produces imagery which can be critically analysed. The viewer could not be immediately aware of the process which creates the visual imagery, thus my abstract maps allow the viewer to make their own assumptions and attempt to orientate themselves within the image. This is an example of abstract imagery, where its visual components are less obvious in their meaning.
Figure 1.6 – ‘L’Europe des Points Noirs’, Henri Dron, Paris, 1869. [Barber, Harper, 2010: pg163]
Maps, as part of our visual culture, also embody ideology. Meaning can be ‘read’ from a map as if critically analysing a work of art, through its visual elements such as symbols, colouring and the perspective of the image. The map ‘L’Europe des Points Noirs’ (figure 1.6) from France 1869, for example shows the possibility of transforming areas of war into a land of reconciliation and peace. The question mark around the first map signifies a problem which needs solving, a problem with the areas denoted by their black colouring. If the question mark signifies an issue then the image on the right, surrounded by an air balloon, suggests an answer to the problem. By identifying the trouble spots in black, the map suggests these are areas of war or threat which need to be dealt with in order to create the idyllic balloon of hope. The ideology to create a better, peaceful Europe is reaching out through the symbol of a question mark, hoping for the actions necessary to realise the second image. In each of these different images a distinct ideology can be communicated. By analysing the symbols, imagery, colour and composition that make up an image; it can speak out about its concepts and ideas, more can be seen and understood than taking an image at face value.
Maps and Ideologies ‘Maps are selective representations of reality.’ [Black, 1997:11] ‘Maps are well known but less well understood.’ [Harley, 2001:32] ‘A cornucopia of images bewildering in their variety: this is the world of maps.’ [Wood, 1992:4] Definitions of maps are often quite narrow, focussing on common components such as land, sea and sky. [Oxford Dictionary, 1986: 329] One of the first maps I encountered as a child was a treasure map (figure 2.1), showing land and sea alongside a more navigational element. This is a strong image we can visualise to describe a ‘map’. Your first experience of maps colours your perceptions of what a map is; maps familiar to you help form your definition and knowledge of maps. Historical and contemporary maps alike feature land, sea and sky, yet the maps of our solar system, the space beyond our earth, questions this common definition. Maps are as much about physical geography as they are about people and their social behaviour. ‘Although most commonly used to depict geography, maps may represent any space, real or imagined, without regard to context or scale.’[Wikipedia: 2013]
Figure 2.1 – Treasure Island Map. [Uklon. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. 2013.
Mapping as a concept for organising data has also produced genealogy maps (figure 2.2) and mind maps (figure 2.3). Diagrammatic in their appearance, they are focused on coordinating information spatially to show the relation between data, therefore constitute a form of mapping. Constant technological development makes visual imagery subject to a certain level of digitisation and expansion into new formats; such as the motion of video and experiments with three dimensional viewing, and interaction with an image through computers and other devices. To answer `what is a map?’ is challenging as maps are not just
objects, they are integral to the way we function within our evolving society, and could even be considered part of humanity.
Figure 2.2 – ‘House of Tudor 1485 – 1603,’ Genealogy Map (Family Tree). [Cafleurebon. 2011]
Figure 2.3 – ‘How to Mind Map,’ Mind Map, based on Tony Buzan’s Mind Map Structure. [Mind Mapping. 2013]
Every map is created for a purpose, whether this is specific like political election maps (figure 2.4), showing political allegiances in particular areas; or more open such as general purpose maps (figure 2.5) which detail many layers of information such as roads and terrain.
Figure 2.5 – ‘Presidential Election Map,’ America, 2012. [Princeton. 2012]
Figure 2.6 – ‘Malvern Hills’, Ordnance Survey, Worcester and The Malverns, 1984. [Ordnance Survey, 1984]
Whatever purpose a map is produced to fulfil, ultimately it has to work; ‘they work, that is they don’t fail’ [Wood, 1992:1]. Interest in maps is driven by the need to access knowledge, knowing your location, knowing your world. Maps make it possible to see what you can’t actually see, whether from your position right now, or in reference to elements you may never see; ‘The sphericity of the globe is not something that comes to us as seeing-hearing-sniffing-tasting-feeling animals, is not something that comes to us…naturally.’ [Wood, 1992:5] Through maps a unique knowledge can be gained. By looking at maps of a specific country throughout its history, you will see changes, evidence of war, adjustment of boundaries, and increasing cities. Maps give an insight into cultural development through their visual imagery, they are ’embedded in a history they help construct.’ [Wood, 1992: 5] Many of the historical maps which have survived today are those of great importance to a specific culture. With a world market and an evolving capitalist society profits become a driving factor in commissioning the 13
research and data collection for maps. Desire for knowledge has increased alongside the demand for maps within the developed world; it is this market for maps which secures their place within our culture. Another way in which maps work is through driving progress. Maps are the ‘ceaseless reproduction of the culture that brings them into being’ [Wood, 1992:1]. The evolution of culture and society is evidenced within maps throughout time; creating a map inspires new perspectives on the world, in turn stimulating development. Hegel’s ‘dialectical theory’ 1807 described by Daniel Miller in his ‘theory of things’ 2010 uses law as an example to describe the development of human consciousness through acts of creation. It discusses the idea that, as humans, we create or invent new institutions, objects or ideologies which in turn create us. Miller’s example of law as initially ‘entirely external: an oppressive force, alien from oneself’ [Miller, 2010:55] could be considered in relation to the development of maps. Early mapmakers and cartographers were discovering new information about their world and displaying it in an innovative way. This will have affected elements of society, changes which may now be viewed as progress, initially viewed with suspicion. Discovering the world was round, for example, began with Pythagoras in the 6 th Century BC but did not become commonly accepted until centuries later, many still believing this discovery should be attributed to Columbus. Myths such as these are linked to society’s acceptance of what is perceived to be truth. This example demonstrates a human unwillingness to believe in new knowledge of scientific truth of the time. However, like the example of law, maps have become part of society. Mapping is a process we use to evidence the way the world looks and functions providing an audit trail of changes within the world. Although new technological advancements such as satellites might excite us initially, they become just another form of mapping, part of everyday life. Hegel’s ‘dialectical theory’ also deals with the problems caused by these acts of creation. Within the example of law Miller describes, societies understand that law didn’t just appear from nothing but was created by society itself. Yet with this creation come rules and limitations over that society. [Miller, 2010: 55] ‘We created it, we become reconciled with it. We start to see ourselves within it.’ [Miller, 2010:56] The act of producing a map inspires change; this change must then be mapped, ideally with more accuracy and improved knowledge. This process has continued to develop within our culture as maps document our progress and the changes we make within the world. Actions in our physical reality evidence our ideologies through the visual representations of maps. This development, like a bicycle wheel, has a cyclical motion but is always moving forwards. Maps are part of society, created by people, subject to constant developments; they exist as single objects within our visual culture, and as a process through which information is ordered. Pierre Bordieu’s theory of socialisation and that of ‘Habitus’ discusses the relationship between society and ‘stuff’; objects and institutions we grow up using and becoming part of. In
essence how our ‘stuff’ makes us who we are, as well as the society and culture we are part of. ‘Born in London, I learnt to eat with a knife and fork rather than chopsticks’ [Miller, 2010: 53]. In this example a comparison is highlighted between western cutlery and chopsticks which, though essentially serving the same purpose, are very different both visually and in terms of functionality. Ideology behind eating with a knife and fork perhaps refers to civility, names such as tableware and silverware suggesting upper-class formalities within the western world. Whereas chopsticks are an alternative to eating with your hands, they signify a simpler, quicker style of eating without the use of a cutting implement. In the same way that different tools for eating can present different social mannerisms between western and eastern parts of the world, so can maps. Figure 2.6 – ‘A World Safe for Sailors,’ a modern outline reconstruction of the 1569 developed by Gerhardas Mercator. [Black, 1997: pg30]
As objects maps are ‘bewildering in their variety,’ [Wood: 1992: 4] changes in information, colouring, symbols, and styles can change what is represented and completely change our understanding. Thinking of how maps influence society and our assumptions as individuals will depend upon the maps we are most aware of. The Mercator projection (figure 2.6), for example, is the most common view of the world within Western civilisation, especially within Europe. With a central orientation upon the countries that make up Europe, initially where your eyes are drawn, suggesting importance of the countries there. As a British citizen this Eurocentric view of the world is how I perceive where I live. This is a view I have always known and accepted, however you can understand how societies from different countries may view this as a biased representation. I imagine individuals all over the world assume and visualise their country as the world’s centre. Ideology communicated through the visual imagery of maps transforms a map into a window upon which social ideas throughout history can be communicated. Over time maps have developed into many areas of society, some maps depict world views and others are specific in the information they contain. During the medieval period many of the maps created were coined ‘mappae mundi’, meaning chart or map of the world. Looking at a few of the 15
surviving mappae mundi’s, such as The Ebstorf Map (figure 2.7), The Psalter Map (figure 2.8) and The Hereford Map (figure 2.9), you can see there is little to no navigational element.
Figure 2.7 – ‘The Ebstorf Map,’ Kloster Ebstorf, 1300. [Barber, Harper, 2010: pg80]
Figure 2.8 – ‘The Psalter Map,’ Westminster, 1265. [Barber, Harper, 2010: pg78]
Initially these maps look quite inaccurate however their design was intended to capture the ideologies and principles of the world. Symbolic imagery illustrates belief and thought through concepts of different countries, races, mythologies, bible stories and more. ‘In their fullest form they become minor encyclopaedias of medieval knowledge.’ [Wikipedia: 2013] Common between these three maps are
their geometric layouts which divide the world, most often in a T and O formation (figure 2.10) with Christ or God being part of or holding the whole world. In medieval Europe Christianity, through Catholicism, was a dominant power, and although they all depict Christ they have different focuses, The Ebstorf Map shows God becoming the world, whereas The Hereford Map has a strong emphasis on the Last Judgement, with Christ as the judge.
Figure 2.9 – ‘The Hereford Map,’ Richard of Haldingham and Lafford, 1285. [Wikipedia. 2013]
Figure 2.10 – ‘T and O’ Map formation. [Wikipedia. 2013]
Continuing the practice of mapping the world’s ideology, incorporated by many copyists of mappae mundi in the medieval period; Grayson Perry has created his own personal mappae mundi. Map of Nowhere, 2008 (figure 2.11), focuses on Perry’s view of the world at that time, reproducing his own image in the traditional place of Christ. ‘I liked the idea of Christ’s body somehow
encompassing the limits of the known world, it also echoes Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing of Vitruvian Man.’ [Perry, Barber, Harper, 2010: 81] The use of Perry’s own image symbolises a personal link with all that is present in the map. Perry is encompassing the limits of the known world; this is a portrait of his personal interests and perspective of his world.
Figure 2.11 – ‘Map of Nowhere,’ Grayson Perry, 2008. [Barber, Harper, 2010: pg81]
Within this map, imagery symbolises ‘the beliefs, head-lines, clichés and monsters that populate my (Perry’s) social landscape,’ [Perry, Barber, Harper, 2010: 81]. For example surrounding the cat shaped lake is a forest of hunting lodges with the names, ‘middle class guilt’, ‘tree huggers’ and ‘carbon footprint’ referencing wider social ideologies and concerns of the time as well as Perry’s own. This image illustrates how maps can convey ideology through the use of symbols and words, how the selectivity, and choices made by Perry represent his own personal views. Like all forms of visual imagery maps convey a variety of ideologies, which when critically analysed communicate the social feelings and thought of the time.
Knowledge and Maps A basic concept for mapping information of any kind is that ‘mapping is central to attempts to advance, record and contest understandings of space and spatiality’. [Black, 1997:10] Mapping is an exercise in organising space and the objects within, creating clarity and solidifying understanding of environment or process. Through maps the author reveals their perspective of the world. ‘Maps are not mirrors of reality but the minds of their creators are imprinted upon them.’ [Dorling, Fairbairn. 1997: 18] Since the introduction of cartography, and the Age of Enlightenment, between 17th and 18th centuries where intellectuals reformed society with the logic of reasoning, relying on scientific proof; maps are known to define factual science. ‘Knowledge of the map is knowledge of the world,’ [Wood, 1992: 18] a statement which infers factual truth within the visual imagery of a map. Our view of maps and the knowledge they hold, is skewed by our interpretation of what maps are supposed to be, ‘a transparent window on the world’ [Wood, 1992: 18]. As a form of visual communication, cartographic historians view maps as ‘value-laden imagery,’ [Harley, 2001:53] treating maps as paintings, critiquing the image through iconological practices; studying imagery and symbolic meaning rather than whether the map is true or false in cartographic terms. However, obvious uses of cartographic distortion are valuable in understanding a map’s ideology, hinting at the author’s intention and message they are attempting to convey. The McArthur Universal Corrective Map (1979) (figure 3.1) challenges the typical Eurocentric presentation of the world. The title and addition of the text ‘South is superior, South dominates, Long live Australia;’ [Black, 1997] along with its inverted orientation, and centralised location of Australia; suggests a new way to view the world.
Figure 3.1 – ‘McArthur Universal Corrective Map of the World,’ McArthur, 1979. [Black, 1997: pg52-53]
When taking information from a map, awareness of its form as a representation and not exact reality is important. Maps are built from collected data such as geographical information. This data undergoes a selective process and manipulation of design, like the use of an inverted orientation, distorting the original data. Gaining information, or gaining knowledge, from forms of visual imagery can be deceptive. A map such as this, communicating a new way of looking at the world, is a form of opinion. It’s not fact, or justified belief, simply belief which manipulates geographical truths to make possible this believed reality. One role of maps within society is education; maps are often standard visual media in the classroom. From my own experience the use of maps within teaching is as a visual tool of factual information about the world. Other than the basics of how to ‘read’ a map, to navigate from A to B, maps are treated at face value, as truth. Testimony from your teachers encourages your belief in learnt knowledge. The nature of knowledge and how it is acquired influences what we know is true and what we believe is true. Information gained from maps aid in creating a perception of what they depict. There are many theories concerning the different types of knowledge, those which come from only external sources such as the world, your senses and experiences, to an extreme form of scepticism where you believe the knowledge your mind generates – solipsism. The word ‘maps’ describes a range of varied imagery; some maps are entirely fictional, whereas others require scientific fact and measurement to fulfil their purpose. As visual imagery, the information maps communicate cannot be spoken in the same way as text, not all maps are as obvious in their ideology as the McArthur Universal Corrective Map (figure 3.1). In referring to a map as an example of fact and truth within education, with its cartographic distortions and political influences already in place, our perceptions of the world are unconsciously coloured.
Figure 3.2 – ‘Asia – Usborne Children’s Encyclopaedia,’ 1986. [Black, 1997: pg116]
The use of maps to educate children aid in their discovery of identity, they learn they are part of a larger group, a British citizen. In doing so, they learn their
position within the world, where other peoples, races, and religions come from. They see there is a physical divide between countries, a line which represents a separation between them and us. Without trying to prove that maps are a reason for discrimination with our world, maps such as ‘Asia’ from ‘The Usborne Children’s Encyclopaedia’ 1986 (figure 3.2) and ‘Africa’ in the ‘Kingfisher First Encyclopaedia’ 1994 (figure 3.3) highlight stereotypical traditional scenes and actions from these continents. Understandably, it is not appropriate for children to be taught the politics and graphic truths of poverty or crime within these countries. Nonetheless this perception of Africa full of animals in their natural habitats evidencing only tribe’s people, creates a perception of that continent; an assumed knowledge of a place, all from an image, which forms the basis of their understanding of the world, albeit a distorted knowledge.
Figure 3.3 – ‘Africa – Kingfisher First Encyclopaedia,’ Brian Williams, 1994. [Black, 1997: pg117]
Maps are visual representations of selected data that has been collected. Every decision made in the process of making a map distorts the final outcome; obscuring the data from being neutral. The impossibility of neutral data signifies that the simplest of maps, a family tree, is in some way distorted by the individuals who collected and recorded the information. Even Satellite imagery, believed to be a truer image of the world, viewed as an accurate form of data, involves decisions which misrepresent the final outcome.
Figure 3.4 – The Earth from Space, A satellite view of the world,’ Tom Van Sant, 1990. [GlobeCorner. 2013]
One of the first whole earth satellite images, created by artist Tom Van Sant (figure 3.4), evidences the processes and selections that take place in order to create that perfect view of the world. Sant’s image is an advertisement for the eradication of chlorofluorocarbon gases [CFCs] evident by the lack of cloud formations. However, satellites scan the world, not photograph it, the data collected from the scans transmits to the earth where software recreates the image. The use of scanning to collect data was chosen to distinguish between textures of the surface such as the ocean and forest; more precise is the difference between crops. These distinctions in Van Sant’s map, and many other satellite images, are edited to display a realistic view, one that appeals to our cultural assumptions, the sea is blue, and the land is green. These choices show how decisions may distort our view of the world. Likewise this image is a collage of scans taken around the world on the brightest, clearest, sunniest day. Images are digitally sewn together to create a single image where all of the earth is experiencing daylight, a truth which cannot happen. This image is also subject to the use of projection to flatten the globe, a process of map-making which is often unnoticed in the final image. Knowledge can be gained through maps; however for it to be truth, it must be justified by external sources. Taking images of any kind, especially those of maps, at face value as a form of truth, shows a lack in critical understanding of visual imagery. Knowledge remains one of the most prominent ideologies within maps. Creating a map is often spurred on by new discoveries or changes. A map aims to give new knowledge visually, yet can only provide a representation of the factual data. This limits all visual imagery compared with the more literal understandings gained from text.
Power and Maps ‘Power and knowledge directly imply one another; that there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations.’ [Foucault, 1977. Harley, 2001: 87] Power and knowledge are ideologies present within maps. Foucault describes that both power and knowledge are connected entities; you can’t have one without the other. In analysing their relationship Andrews makes a good point; ‘a man pushed over a cliff gains no power from the knowledge that he will soon be hitting the ground.’ [Andrews, Harley, 2001: 22] The connection between knowledge and power, in the case of this man, is that the knowledge he has gained doesn’t give him power it takes his power away; he cannot do anything to stop the inevitable. Thus the connection still exists but with a subtractive quality wherein certain knowledge can remove power and certain power can remove knowledge. Knowledge within maps can be mistaken for what is the opinion and beliefs of its creator; making maps ideal vehicles for those in power to influence the wider population. Maps are commissioned by few bodies of authority such as governments, military and large companies. Cartographers simply use their ability to visualise data to produce a map. Like any brief, cartographers have criteria to follow; criteria put in place by the instigator. In reference to knowledge and the selectivity of data, decisions are in the hands of the authority. Omissions and silences upon maps, elements which are present in our reality yet not shown on the map, are controlled by those leading the map’s production. In some cases omissions are made due to cartographic problems, simply at this scale, if it’s to be legible, not everything can be shown. For example, compromises are made within tourist maps which highlight the attractions of a city and areas it is famous for, rather than representing every alleyway and industrial estate.
Figure 4.1 – ‘Historic Pershore,’ Tourist Map. [VisitPershore. 2013]
This example of ‘Historic Pershore’ (figure 4.1) locates attractions, yet leaves out evidence of housing. Common omissions in maps and satellite images are military bases, which are hidden for the safety of the nation. However sceptic thought could exaggerate these omissions, wondering what else is being filtered from view. This control of information, deciding what is and is not included, is one form of power evident within maps. Historic maps from the 15th and 16th Centuries were elaborate in design and size. ‘Their scientific and aesthetic distinction, however, tended to be in direct contrast to their practical use’. [Barber, Harper, 2010: 9] Maps of size and grandeur, like The Salas del Mappamondo, Palazzo Farnese, Caprarola (figure 4.2), painted onto walls of palaces, lacked in functionality. With the size and skill involved to paint a map upon the wall, getting close to them, like paintings in galleries today, was approached with reverence. The aesthetics and materials used to create such large scale maps in my opinion categorises them as forms of artwork. Using gold leaf, or carving the image into marble showed power through the territory mapped and through the level of skill which produced rich and magnificent imagery. If one could get close to see the detail it would be restricted to eye level, therefore the majority of maps of size invoked status and power. Their purpose and only use was as an image to be admired, an image full of ideology, representing their power over the areas mapped.
Figure 4.2 – ‘The Salas del Mappamondo ’, Palazzo Farnese, Caprarola. [Barber, Harper, 2010: pg8-9]
Maps as objects are seen as symbols of power and status. Often seen as props within paintings, icons to symbolise the figure’s status, wealth and new global ventures. Paintings such as (figure 4.3) Thomas, 14th Earl of Arundel and his wife, can be seen plotting and pointing to a specific area of the globe. Referencing their power and influence over this new territory, maps are iconological as signs of sovereignty and political strength, ‘map motifs continue to be accepted as geopolitical signs in contemporary society.’ [Harley, 2001: 73]
Figure 4.3 – ‘Thomas, 14th Earl of Arundel, and his wife Alethea’, 1635. [Harley, 2001: pg72]
From status maps came cadastral maps (figure 4.4), a localised view upon the land owned. Maps of land meant power over the land; ‘to own the map was to own the land.’ [Harley, 2001: 75] With ownership come power, control and authority. Maps not only embody the ideology of power within their visual imagery; they become tools for asserting power, over land and over people. 25
Historically cadastral maps represented land divisions and purpose, such as where particular crops were grown. Not only did these maps visualise ownership and workmanship of the land, they could be used to calculate profits, building the farming industry and creating a product for export. Like many forms of map which epitomise power or are used as tools of power the aim is increasing profitability and generating more power.
Figure 4.4 – ‘Plan of the Parish of Smallburgh’, Bramford, Suffolk,John Darby, 1582. [Barber, Harper, 2010: pg138139]
Power within politics and territory are well established in the mappings by our nation’s military, which rely on accurate and up-to-date maps. Maps work as tools for strategic planning and organisation of warfare. They aid the positioning of troops as well as defining the end game, what the aim of the war is, where new territory lines will be placed. Maps serve as a blank canvas to plan and visualise the outcome of war before it has begun. Maps ‘palliate the sense of guilt which arises from its conduct: the silent lines of the paper landscape foster the notion of socially empty space.’ [Harley, 2001: 60] Maps empty of life make the hard decisions easier; removing the knowledge of a society gives the power of warfare permission, without responsibility. However lines upon a map can start wars or political conflict, these lines represent a boundary between countries. Understanding and deciding where the lines should go can ultimately lead to argument and a physical presence to fight for the territory. Propaganda, information of a misleading nature with a specific agenda, is evident through historic maps. Distorted knowledge gives power to its creator, the power to deceive or trick. Similar to visual advertising, propaganda maps aim to persuade. Maps involving propaganda are either obviously doing so to make a point, or trying to cunningly deceive an opposing force using subtle communication. Associated with political differences propaganda maps are often created during times of war to gain the support of the people. Unless subtly done, propaganda maps pay little attention to cartographic science, enlarging countries
or nations which are causing a threat; using iconological symbols and imagery to evoke emotion.
Figure 4.5 – ‘Serio-Comic War Map’, Fred W. Rose, London 1877. [Barber, Harper, 2010: pg164]
In both of these maps, Fred W. Rose Serio-Comic War Map, London 1877 (figure 4.5) and La Guerre est l’Industrie Nationale de la Prusses (War is the national industry of Prussia) Paris 1917 (figure 4.6), the image of an octopus is used to visualise the power which is threatening war.
Figure 4.6 – ‘La Guerre est l’Industrie Nationale de la Prusses’ (War is the national industry of Prussia), Paris, 1917. [Barber, Harper, 2010: pg165 ]
The octopus’s tentacles symbolise the threat’s influence and their aim to conquer all. Both maps were created by people under threat of the octopus’s tentacles; the aim of these maps is to advertise the threat and exaggerate its control, putting fear and unease into the hearts of the people. The first map of 1877 personifies European countries as figures. Some of the countries represented by individuals on the map are being strangled, evidencing the reality if nothing is done to control the octopus. By evoking the emotions of people, amongst the threat of a strangle hold, countries unify to control the octopus, working together to strategically defend their nations, severing the threat of its tentacles. Both 27
maps visualise an obvious form of propaganda; in reference to the 1877 map, it would be foolish to assume the figures and octopus were factual representations of our geography. Propaganda maps relate to social and political feelings of the time. As a form of visual imagery, maps can evoke a reaction from its audience. Maps of propaganda hold within the power to exaggerate and influence the actions of people. Maps, such as those evidencing the octopus of threat, are tools for action; created by those in power to influence the views of the people. The threat is perceived as a global danger due to the dramatic imagery and the scale of its influence across the world, yet it is likely the reality of that situation was not out of control as the imagery suggests. Maps as a tool in the hands of the powerful are a force for action, influencing change and gaining support. They present ideologies of power through their visual imagery, and as an object become a tool of power.
Technology and Maps Maps and their production within our society embrace new inventions and new discoveries in their continued evolution. Society and the majority of our world host a culture of digitisation. Advancement has meant updating how data is collected, stored and utilised, converting to a more efficient, accurate, quicker system. Modern culture is reliant on computer systems; from retail and delivery markets, to financial and communication industries. It’s no surprise that maps today can be accessed via screen, viewed and interacted with digitally and used whilst mobile. Technology is an area of increased development and new discovery. Since the introduction of personal computers, our use of technology has increased exponentially. Technology is a driving force for change within our social interactions and cultural ideals; it is the future of our world and also the future of maps. The U.S. military have developed what was previously overhead aerial photography, used during the World Wars for ascertaining enemy locations, into satellite imagery (figure 5.1) which has improved accuracy and reconnaissance knowledge.
Figure 5.1 – ‘England : The Lake District and Northern Pennines,’ Satellite image. [Fiennes, 2004: pg19]
Positioned within space are devices which scan the globe and create visual representations of our world. Originally under strict control, access to almost accurate satellite signals are being commercialised and available for civilian use. This has meant a revolution in the world of map-making, new technologies such as Geographical Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) digitising maps and their production. Products such as SatNav’s and applications, on all types of devices, like ‘Google Maps’ are dependent upon satellite information in order to function. Satellites also make possible the new trend of geo-tagging your locations for social media applications.
Figure 5.2– SuperGeoGIS (Urban Disaster Prevention and Planning). [DirectionsMag , 2013]
GIS, Geographic Information System (figure 5.2) is computer software which digitally stores, analyses and manipulates collected data, resulting in the production of a map. Since its introduction map scholars have debated its use. Many agree that it has killed the skill of cartography, yet others believe it’s the next stage in the map-making evolution. GIS software has enabled mass storage of data; updating and editing existing maps couldn’t be simpler. This is a big step into the digital world, adding many benefits to the customisation of maps and their ease of distribution.
Figure 5.3– Google map accessing GPS, 2013. [Salter, 2013]
GPS recently became popular in the mobile device market; GPS signals can now be accurate within 100m of your mobile phone. Through mobile devices ‘Google Maps’ (figure 5.3), an interactive map sites, connects to GPS and pinpoints your location to help you find your way or aid in locating a documented place such as a train station. Mobile devices also access GPS signals to geo-tag your photos or status updates for social media websites. Real-time GPS signals are used within SatNav’s (figure 5.4), constantly updating your location to help direct you to your destination, or re-route you should you take a wrong turn. 30
Figure 5.4– TomTom, Sat Nav. [SouthNottsCom puters. 2013.]
The development of GPS within mapping has enabled data collection with a higher degree of accuracy. Its use has flourished within social aspects of our culture. GPS devices have been used for all manner of mapping such as the personal maps created by artist Jeremy Wood in his 2000-09 map of London ‘My Ghost’ (figure 5.5), where he is drawing with GPS signals to document his journeys. Mobile phone applications can document your journey, drawing the route you have taken onto a map; people have become creative with route planning and developed a social interest in drawing unusual imagery within the city streets, using the city as a canvas with your movement as the paint (figure 5.6).
Figure 5.5– ‘My Ghost’, Jeremey Wood, 20002009 [GPSDrawing. 2013]
Figure 5.6– GPS DrawingApp, Micheal Wallace. 2012. [How Stuff Works. 2012]
Digital technology has expanded the possibilities of maps. The uses of GPS and GIS related technologies show that mapping is beyond an object within our visual culture; it can become part of your lifestyle, choosing to map every journey you take. It can engage people in making creative journeys, seeing parts of their city they might never have visited. Throughout the history of mapping focus has been on geographical accuracy, understanding and documenting every aspect of our world. There is still opportunity for change in boundary lines or countries merging together, yet our geographical knowledge of the world has predominately been mapped. Advancing technology has generated an interest to map the more unusual social aspects of our world. Developing the map into a social tool involves Public Participatory Geographical Information Systems (PPGIS). Like GIS, PPGIS involves the digitisation of maps, the difference is that the map is edited and updated by members of the public. ‘Google Maps’, one of the largest mapping companies, involves an element of PPGIS within their online map service, where users can update the names of local restaurants, business and more, to keep the map current. PPGIS is at an early stage, involving the public in mapping brings up issues such as lack of accuracy and purposefully inputting incorrect information. However over time PPGIS could develop into a mapping norm. Jake Barton’s City of Memory (figure 5.7) is a web-based PPGIS map of New York, where users and city officials can input information specific to a particular location. Information like tourist reviews, or events that have happened; information other New Yorkers or visitors might find useful or interesting.
Figure 5.7– ‘Memory Map,’ City of Memory’, New York, Jake Barton [City of Memory. 2013]
Connecting information to an interactive map, from individuals or other websites, builds a community within the map. ‘Google Maps’ uses its links with websites it owns, like ‘YouTube’, a video hosting site, to allow individuals to link their own videos to a particular location such as where they live or where the video was filmed. By looking at a town on ‘Google Maps’ (figure 5.8) with ‘YouTube’ video links enabled the community comes to life. When looking at Worcester many of the videos are one mans attempt to document flooding and snow whilst driving his car. You will see videos you would have never seen before; a history of your town is available like a window. With technology, maps are more than objects; with interactive maps the possibility of making them personal can be achieved through zooming and panning to where you wish to look, at whatever scale you choose. Focussing on your own town you can decide where to go, which route to take, and discover how long your journey will be. These interactive maps aren’t limited to your own town, like a paper map could be; you can see the other side of the world with just the click of a button. In comparison to maps in paper format, interactivity improves all aspects of the map for your personal use, enabling it to do what you want, all from the one map.
Figure 5.8– Worcester,’ Google Maps, 2013 (Video Label ticked) [Google Maps. 2013.
Yet with digital map services, what maps will survive beyond our life time? How will future generations reflect upon us through the maps we leave behind? With the digital era in full swing and the giant that is â€˜Google Maps,â€™ the `go toâ€™ map of my generation, will there be any evidence or audit trail of what is here and now? Or, will the digitisation of maps result in maps continuing to evolve like our own culture, yet only being recorded by overwriting what was there before?
Conclusion This study has opened my eyes to the power of visual imagery and the role it plays in communicating ideology. Visual imagery which includes maps is evidenced to influence views held by both society and individuals, often evoking a strong emotional response. Social theories such as Bourdieu’s ‘Habitus,’ indicates how objects and our personal interactions with them can manipulate our perspective and development. In relation to maps this theory connects our understanding of what maps are, and how we use them. Due to the wide variety of imagery that can be denoted as a form of map it is difficult to solidify conclusions as one type or use of map often contradicts another. Maps have evolved to be a key part of everyday life, developing from status and ownership maps of the upper classes to public transport maps available to the majority. Historically maps have functioned effectively as one of the most powerful ways for ideologies to be transmitted to the wider population. Maps will continue to be a vehicle for exerting power and influence but there is evidence to support the supposition that in the future an increasing proportion of power could be through individuals and communities. Individuals will have more personal connection with everyday digitised forms of mapping, able to share and edit information of a local and personal nature. However it is likely that the predominant power will remain with governments, military and large companies, who will be able to continue influencing component data made available in the public eye. As maps become increasingly digitalised, the improvement in access for many people means that the information and interactivity is able to reach a significantly larger audience. It will be interesting to see how ideologies are conveyed through maps in the future. Maps such as ‘Google Maps’ currently embrace functionality over adornment and narrative therefore the emphasis is more about travel, social networks and tourism. Digitisation now influences all areas of map production, from printed hard copies created with GIS, to online interactive map services. As a result of online mapping, maps are being updated and overwritten and so there is a growing risk that the visual audit trail of changes over time may be lost for future generations. Printed maps, instigates by bodies of authority, will continue production and provide a document of changes limited to the data they capture. Yet these maps may never be as varied or push boundaries in the way that online interactive examples can achieve. Maps are inherently powerful as visual imagery and so will undoubtedly continue to evolve embracing Hegel’s dialectical theory. We will continue to develop maps through our awareness of current knowledge and problems which need to be solved leading to acts of creation and innovation within maps.
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