What Do You Call The Opposite Of Mapping?

Dutch computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra, who was awarded the Turing Prize in 1972 is reported to have once said …

If debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in.

With this in mind, if the process of taking geographical information and making this into a map is called mapping … what do you call the opposite, the process where you take a map and deconstruct it back to what makes up the map in the first place.

Un-mapping? Anti-mapping? De-atlasing? Whatever you call it, you start out with a map and you end up with an oddly compelling form of art. Which is just what French artist Armelle Caron has been doing.

Start with the map. Let’s take a map of Berlin. If you’ve spent any time in this city, the map will look pretty familiar. It’s not the most granular or small scale of maps, but that doesn’t matter. What happens next is most definitely art and is akin to magic.

You take the city apart. Block by block. Then you order the blocks and shapes. You categorise them, sort them, rank them and stack them. And you end up with the complete opposite of a map.

Berlin isn’t the only city that Armelle has turned on its head. There’s also Istanbul, New York and Paris to name but a few. Just take a look for yourself.

I’ve no idea what these opposite of maps should be called, but they’re definitely art in my book.

Photo Credits: Armelle Caron.
Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

Written by Gary

A self-professed map addict, Gary has worked in the mapping and location space for over 20 years through a combination of luck and occasional good judgement. Gary is co-founder of Malstow Geospatial, which provides handmade, professional geospatial consulting. A Fellow of the RGS, he tweets about maps, writes about them...
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1 Comment

Sanj

Cool find indeed – I suppose the street geometries could be similarily generalised and visualised in some ‘geometry’-treemap type representation. Overall, adds to the body of examples that show that an art approach to cartography (e.g. Tufte) can yield fascinating results.

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