Journal cover Journal topic
Proceedings of the ICA
Journal topic
Articles | Volume 4
03 Dec 2021
 | 03 Dec 2021

Across Edges: Art to Cartography; One Landscape to the Next

Darren Sears

Keywords: artistic cartography, map art, cognitive geography, ecology, landscape

Abstract. Maps have the empowering effect of placing the “world at your fingertips,” compressing portions of it into a more “knowable” form. I find that some places have this map-like character even in real life—natural environments that are sliced by sharp, unexpected edges and contrasts into more accessible and digestible fragments. Over the years I have explored creating maps that heighten these places’ compressed quality but also preserve their immersive aspect.

This search led me first to the field of landscape architecture, and then into two dimensions after I realized that creating these idealized places out in real world was mostly a fantasy. I began piecing together travel photographs into abstract photomontages, later reinterpreted in oil paints, that sharpen natural edges and contrasts to depict imaginary places. I then transitioned to watercolors, and toward depicting places not quite as imaginary, using the same fractured style to combine travel-inspired landscapes with bird’s-eye views.

Finding the task of painting the individual fragments less engaging than the process of shaping them into compositions, I came to think of these works as maps in terms of both theory and process—in emphasizing the spatial relationships between scenes rather than the individual scenes themselves. My motivation for creating these maps has expanded beyond personal fulfilment to include conveying the fragility of the natural remnants and contrasts that captivate me.

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