Looking at maps

Composite Group Dream Map. Night 23/24 August, from ‘Dream Mapping’, Susan Hiller, 1974

Artist Susan Hiller invited 10 persons to sleep outdoors for 3 nights in Hampshire where there’s a proliferation of fairy rings. The circles are circles of marasmius oreades mushrooms according to myth after sleeping in one of them you enter a fairy land.

Each morning they mapped the events and structures. Then the artist superimposed the maps on one another to create a collective dream map. The purpose was to experience revelations in the process of mapping ephemeral locations.

What’s the system of dream mapping? Or anything that doesn’t relate to the expected kind of maps?

 Howard Horrowitz, ‘Manhattan’, 1997

It took the author 1.5 years to write and design this poem about Manhattan, in the form of a map as crowded as the place it represents. It’s really interesting how he managed to put the parts he talks about certain places, where the actual places are on the map

Edwin Morgan, ‘Chaffinch Map of Scotland’, 1965

In this visual poem/map, the Scottish poet shows the geographic range of various Scottish names for a bird, Fringilla coelebs, commonly known as the chaffinch


‘Body map of my life’ Bridget Booher

The writer Bridget Booher maps her body physically and psychologically:

“Location: Top of right ear

Cause: Odd lump of tissue, referred by second-grade classmates as the “Rice Krispie”

Diagnosis: Cartilaginous growth

Treatment: Removed by physician father’s colleague

Follow-up: Small scar persists


Location: Equal parts head and heart

Cause: First crush in college (clean cut preppy) suddenly stops calling and appears at parties with a shiny, diminutive Southern belle

Diagnosis: Bruised ego

Treatment: Learned to play quarters with (not so clean-cut) members of Beta Phi Zeta fraternity

Follow-up: Later learned that freshman flame became a dentist in Pittsburgh. No regrets. ”

 Paula Scher, ‘The World’, 1998

In her book ‘Make it bigger’ graphic designer Paula Scher explains that she began painting “small opinionated maps in the early 90’s. Over time they grew larger and more obsessive. In the late 90’s and now the map paintings serve as an antidote to laborious corporate design projects frustrated by indecisive committees”

Langlands & Bell, Air routes of Britain (Night and day) and Air routes of the world (Night and Day), 2002

“a mile-high state of permanent flux frozen intime”

I am personally attracted by all these lines and points. In the first image you can recognise the outline of Britain.


William Wegman, ‘Vacationland’, 2003

A map made of imaginary travel. The collage features vintage postcards from distinct periods and places, evoking nostalgia for summer cross-country road trips.

Kim Dingle, ‘United shapes of America’, (maps drawn by Las Vegas teenagers), 1991

Students were asked to draw the map of the US. This shows that every people can visualise differently familiar places even when they have been asked to just draw it!

Simon Patterson, ‘The great bear’, 1992

Patterson transmutes familiar information classification systems like maps ,slide rules etc, by imposing new information one them. The map of London’s underground becomes something else. Are the names placed at random or is there some method here?

From the book ‘You are here’ by Katharine Harmon


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