Institute of Contemporary Art Newtown


An Other World

February 2012: An Other World


images: Ruth Watson “An Other World” (from top to bottom) installation views and details

Ruth Watson has worked with cartographic ideas and imagery for over twenty years, from Planetarium at Artspace, Auckland in 1989 to a 12-metre diameter map of the universe made for the Yale-Columbia Observatory at Mt. Stromlo, Australia in 2005. She has used a variety of materials – from chocolate wrapping paper to salt, linseeds to cibachrome photographs – to make often large-scale, composite works. Many of her map works have a DIY aspect and are made with a simple economy of means such as here, plain graphite drawing. She has long used unusual or less known representations of the world, for example heart-shaped (cordiform) world maps, to the ocean-centric maps of Athelstan Spilhaus, in part to remind us our conventional view of the world map is limited and could bear challenging.

The map projections used for An Other World are “myriahedral” – the name given them by contemporary Dutch cartographer Jarke van Wijk. He was experimenting with minimal distortions for area and shape, using a multiple interruptions to the ‘surface’ of the near-spherical globe from which a flat map is derived. Watson contacted van Wijk to request permission for his projections to be made into artworks and also asked if he could re-orient them, South Pole at the centre (all the maps he had presented up to this time were either centred on the north pole or Amerocentric). Details of van Wijk’s projections were then selected for rescaling and drawn for this exhibition.

(Ruth Watson gratefully acknowledges the map projections of Jarke J. Van Wijk, of the Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Map projections used with permission).

Written by ICAN

August 17, 2017 at 11:58