Modernist Cartography

Jorge Luis Borges’ story “Of Exactitude in Science” tells the story of a King who orders a map made of his kingdom with a 1:1 ration.  The map is made to overlay the territory.  When you consider some digital cartography projects, including PdPal, it seems as though artists working in locative media of one sort or another are engaged in a similar modernist impulse to define the territory by overlaying a map.  Through the construction of a complete map, the ambiguity of the territory recedes.  While the digital versions of Borges’ story creates a malleable document, space is converted to a document nonetheless.

Seeing this contemporary work in light of Borges’ instead of Debord, as many people prefer, it gives the work a bit more historical consistency.  The new cartography is the realization of a rather modernist impulse towards the gestamtkunstwerk.