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Themesicon: navigation pathMapping and Texticon: navigation pathThe Carthographic View
From the Cartographic View to the Virtual
Christine Buci-Glucksmann
Landschaft mit dem Sturz des Ikarus (Bruegel, Pieter)


«To think is to travel.» (Deleuze)

Any map could be a voyage in thought connecting a passage and a territory, the readable and the visible, by capturing the infinite within the smallest detail. This could describe the starting point and the risk inherent in all the «appeals» to cartography, from the 16th-century pictorial to the contemporary virtual. Indeed, it was Pieter Bruegel's «Landscape with the Fall of Icarus» (1558) that gave birth to a new outloook that would result in more and more scientific atlases and maps. From up high, Icarus contemplates the scenes being played out on the earth, he plunges infinitely into a maritime horizon of light; up close we can glimpse his tiny leg. Such a plural view of distance and of nearness will gradually bring together «the Icarian eye» and the cartographic eye, into a space with no center, and will introduce a dialectic between «the site» and «the non-site,» to useRobert Smithson's terms. In this way, the map is a veritable alternative to the Albertian model of the window opened onto the world, and it gives rise to a descriptive and


constructed visual arrangement, a space that is open to multiple entrances, a «plateau» where the gaze becomes nomadic. This relationship between site and non-site has revealed a constituitive geo-philosophical paradox. On one hand, the map is the territory, as Jorge Luis Borges’ emperor desired, with his political madness for making a map on the very same scale as the territory. But in another sense, the map is not the territory. Even more so, it is its substitute, and that is why Lewis Carroll created another, more playful utopia, the blank map. Between being and non-being, territory and plane, the map is the model of an «in-between» that deterritorializes the gaze through a generalized panopticon, that can mark out passages, borders and power plays as in all the military strategies of the present day. So, we need to examine the genealogy of this view, its modalities and its strategies, in order to understand how this regard-passage has today become a model of the virtual. As if the culture of flux and instabilities required a new kind of image – fluid, ultra-thin and light, that I called the image-flux, [1] and that takes over from the modernist image, this crystal-image proper to the architectural and artistic

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