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Themesicon: navigation pathMapping and Texticon: navigation pathThe Carthographic View
Die Malkunst (Vermeer van Delft, Jan)

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culture of glass, with all its literal and complex transparencies.

1. New Visibilities

Contrary to Foucault’s position concerning the radical distinction between the visible and the readable, the map is immediately both readable and visible. It functions like a non-mimetic image, an image-index (Pierce), that lies at the origin of a pragmatic of expression. A toponym, such as Paris or Berlin, is localized, and corresponds to a referential and contextual territory, a country, a fragment of a country or a planisphere. This art of describing the world «in the absence of,» that Vermeer treated in his famous «Allegory of Painting,» in which the immense map of the Netherlands doubles et redoubles the painting within a critical and selfreflective arrangement; in fact, this conveyed a contemporary machine of vision that included the discovery of the «new world» and of a universe that henceforth would have no center and would be infinite. That is why the map of the world of the 16th and 17th centuries desymbolizes the world previously centered around


Jerusalem and dominated by the Christ of medieval maps. From then on, the map became a mere artefact, and it is easy to understand the fascination it inspired in the first artist cartographers, Leonardo da Vinci or Dürer. The map seizes the real, masters it, and allows a glimpse of an unconscious quality of vision with its foldings and unfoldings, within a weightless plane. A map takes possession of the limits and the borders of the unlimited.

This is why these new visibilities that are distinct from the perspectivist schema with its point of view, combine several heterogenous elements. It is a «descriptio» connecting images and signs, a new kind of abstraction, that views the diagram as abstract, and that allows for the pluralism of the directions and the displacements characteristic to a worldregard, projected onto a continuous or fragmented plane, with all its variations of scale. An abstraction such as the virtual develops presupposes a mentalization of the world and an abstract machine made of lines and of possibilities enabling one to «read a map,» as we say. This involves a complex reading, because one needs to project oneself outside of oneself, to forget one’s own

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