I recently came back from the 58th German Cartographer’s Conference in Berlin. A highlight was a speach given by the French cartographer Philippe Rekacewicz who is working for the United Nations Environment Programme and the French newspaper Monde Diplomatique that is translated in many languages. The title of his speach was “Drawing the world: cartography between science, art and manipulation”. Rekacewicz indeed has returned to drawing the world on paper with pencil for the sake of not being limited by the visualization capabilities that a digital system offers. Using this basic way of visualisation the emotion comes into his work as it is the case in a handmade piece of art. This way the work is of course subjective as Rekacewicz states – it reflects the cartographer’s view on the world or how he would like to visualize it making maps a possible tool for manipulation. However the maps he shows are based on real data making them a part of the scientific domain as well.
Many of Rekacewicz’s work can be found in the Atlas on Globalisation from Monde Diplomatique. Unfortunately it is only available in French and German. Some people critisize it for not being neutral. But being neutral was probably not the intention. As said before a map is just one point of view. We cartographers are would-be emperors we draw borders and move mountains when we desire.
Below is a map from Monde Diplomatique that I find very impressing. It shows the European measures to seal itself off from immigrants. It is probably based on one of the typical pencil sketches by Rekacewicz that I added for comparison. The sketch reflects some of the author’s anger when producing that map. The Schengen-border is drawn as a (bloody) red line including number of deaths through attempts of crossing the border. More on the topic can be found here.
I was able to find a video of an earlier speech by Philippe Rekacewicz on the web: