An atlas of radical cartography

An atlas of radical cartography opens today in LA.

One exhibitor is Trevor Paglen, at Berkeley who has worked on the CIA extraordinary rendition. In an interview Paglen observes:

Trevor: I’ve actually tried to stay away from cartography and “mapping” as much as possible in my work. The “God’s eye” view implicit in much cartography is usually not helpful in terms of describing everyday life, nor in describing the qualities of the relationships that cartography depicts. Because of what cartography cannot represent, as you mentioned, it becomes pretty clear why it (and the forms of power that the cartographic viewpoint suggests) have traditionally been such powerful instruments of both colonialism and the contemporary geopolitical ordering of the world (which of course very much comes out of colonialism).

Yet Paglen’s own maps (one showing the CIA flights is reproduced here) belie this essentialising (which is common in critical work).

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