World in Progress
Mapping and Visual Representation
Maps are not copies; they are projections. They represent imagined or analytical worlds that exist partly in the minds of their makers. They project a hypothetical idea of what the world could, or should, be like now or in the future. Projections are not neutral, natural or ‘given’: they are constructed, configured, derived from various conventions. In this way, they contradict the traditional function of a map: to record the accurate topography of a place that someone has actually visited in the past. Nowadays, there are no longer unknown spaces or blank zones on a map. Terrae incognitae, the unknown lands, have ceased to exist. We have mapped everything, but it is not the end of mapmaking, since for every ‘official’ map, there are counter-maps. The project ‘World in Progress’ refers to two types of maps representing different periods in the history of mapmaking: the Mappa Mundi and the Dymaxion Map. The term Mappa Mundi derives from the Medieval Latin words mappa (cloth or chart) and mundi (of the world), literally meaning ‘sheet of the world’. Mappae Mundi are maps of the world produced in the medieval and early Renaissance periods, typically depicting Jerusalem at the centre and East at the top. They were never meant to be used as navigational charts and they do not pretend to show the relative areas of land and water. Rather, they are schematic and were meant to illustrate different principles featuring details of cosmology, mythology, and history. They became minor encyclopedias of medieval knowledge. The Dymaxion Map was created and published by Richard Buckminster Fuller in 1943. Fuller's Dymaxion World embodies his effort to resolve the dilemma of cartography: how to depict as a flat surface this spherical world, with true scale, true direction and correct configuration at one and the same time. The Dymaxion Map does not have any ‘right’ way up. There is no ‘up’ and ‘down’, or ‘north’ and ‘south’: only ‘in’ and ‘out’. Fuller attributed the north-up-superior/south-down-inferior presentation of most other world maps to cultural bias. The continents are one single island, one system, all connected to each other, challenging the dominant nation-state perspective with a more holistic ‘total world’ view. The methodological use of the Mappa Mundi and the Dymaxion Map results in a visual depiction highlighting relationships between elements of space, building on the premise that due to spatial information through observation, narration and interpretation, reality can be modelled in various ways. These depictions – or maps – will produce new realities just as they seek to document current ones.