8. Poles 0°N, 0°S, 2017


Poles 0°N, 0°S emanated from a growing interest in world mapping, and the role of counterpoint and inversion in my studio practice in recent years. It is equally a personal response to finding myself living in Europe for a second time, this time temporarily inhabiting another island on the other side of the globe, and the complex spatial and documented relationships that these places share with my home.


Poles 0°N, 0°S is realised in two chapters. The first discusses the desire to create the ‘total image’, the way in which world maps inform our spatial and orientational understanding of the world, and how form, perspective and representation hinder a map’s ability to effectively communicate information spatially. I then discuss the impetus to circulate a singular cartographic representation, one world view, and the disparate trajectories that the disciplines of portraiture and cartography have taken in modern (especially 20th century) history, despite once bearing striking similarities in their twin conceits to unimpaired objectivity. I argue that contemporary cartographers have much to learn from portraiture’s trajectory away from the pursuit of objectivity, and towards experiments that explicitly account for the subjectivity of the maker and produce representations that are relational and also necessarily incomplete.


The second chapter then pursues a discourse centred on the poles and their omission in world maps. This leads into a discussion of how world maps, both historically and contemporarily, have tended to prioritise the (humanly) inhabited world. I further  discuss the manner in which these world maps continue to shape our understandings of the Earth in ways that remain uneasily caught between comprehension of the Earth’s sphericity, and an orientational preference for vertical and horizontal lines.