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Simulacrum (or Mapping)

2023 / Varied edition of 10 / Archival inkjet maps & text embedded in Dobbin Mill papers / Texts: "On Exactitude in Science" by Jorge Luis Borges, 1946, (Blended translation by Diego Doval & Nikos Salingaros) and "Sylvie and Bruno Concluded"  by Lewis Carroll, 1893, excerpt from Chapter 11

Simulacrum (or Mapping) responds to a brilliantly absurd and obviously impossible concept presented in the stories by Jorge Borges & Lewis Carroll that to be true to reality a map would necessarily be 1:1.

Two pamphlets with these texts function as map-like foldouts and are placed in a small folder. It is accompanied by a larger folder with a set of maps displaying the ever-changing borders of historical & present-day Ukraine. The maps have been filigree-cut (revealing the shape of Ukraine at the time). Then they were embedded into translucent paper, which has an additional ripped layer on top, reminding us of the war-torn reality there. These varied historical maps show that cartography is a field that produces diagrams that can only reference the physical world, and therefore, mapping is always subjective.

Cartography does much more than trace the shape and form of the physical world. It attempts to present a diagram of signifiers that reference the world around. The choices of what is shown are prescribed both by the craft and the priorities of the time of production.

In the context of the war in Ukraine, the versions of the map that the warring sides uphold are included in their narratives. As I read about Ukraine’s complex history and saw the maps of its ever-changing past and present, it was clear that the issue was not only one of mapping as referent but also of perspective: the mapmaker defines the position, point of view, selection of details and symbols, etc., ...what is described and omitted, and thus, mapping is always subjective. Ukraine’s very existence is questioned and denied by the Russian aggressor, based on both Soviet mapping and the selective reading of Russian history… all the while ignoring that Ukraine, in some form, existed far earlier than any form of Russia. Indeed, Putin’s claim that Ukraine never existed is absurd and reflects his desire to further his power and empire. There has been a range of Ukraines in map form since at least the 16th century, never mind in existence long before.

I’ve always been fascinated by maps, and I still prefer using the analog form when making my way through place & space. This is also why since 2009, I chose to focus on mapping my world from a psychogeographical perspective. Whether through postings, ambulatory mapping, altered maps or the memory palace, I have continually returned to ideas of cartography as traces of our world. Can we ever truly know the world around us?

And can we ever document and verify what we know?

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