Mapping and Creativity

I was unable to attend this lecture and when I initially looked through the lecture slides I was slightly perplexed! The slides were full of creativity and inspirational images – I hadn’t realised that mapping could be a part of the creative process.  I therefore searched for articles on mapping and creativity and found an article which cleared things up for me! The article, by Nadia Amoroso, gives many examples of the creative use of mapping in design.  My favourite that she describes is:

‘One captivating image in particular illustrates terrain being generated over the urban fabric of Rome. This new map-landscape is crafted from the data emitted by cell phone usage at a Madonna concert at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. As the concert is about to begin, higher peaks in the landscape are crafted, indicating high cell-phone usage.’ (

This article, and the above example in particular, has helped me to understand the content of the lecture and has opened my mind to the creative possibilities that mapping unusual and unexpected data can bring.

In my web searches this image, by the artist Julie Mehretu, really stood out to me:


Image from

‘Julie Mehretu: Grey Area, Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2010. “Asking what it means to be an American artist in Germany during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars of the Bush years, Mehretu’s canvases meditate on the idea of the modern ruin,” in “maplike networks” of lines evoking trade routes and shapes drawn from architectural plans, city plans, and aerial imagery.’ (

The lecture covered all kinds of inspirational techniques and images:

  • the mapping of hand movements
  • the mapping of dance
  • mapping data used to create performance art
  • the mapping of pedestrians’ trajectories
  • mapping art gallery visitors’ movements around the Louvre
  • a smellmap – this has really fascinated me.  I would love to explore the creative possibilities of the mapping of sensory information in more depth.

Part of the lecture that really caught my attention was Nigel Coates’s Mixtacity installation for the Tate Modern in 2007:


Image from

Mixtacity ‘is driven by an artistic spirit. The method is freeform and collaged… Included in the panorama as a whole are several of Coates’ new urban typologies. These are realised as rapid prototyped models, and are layered together with everyday objects masquerading as roads and buildings. Mixtacity keys into the fascination for miniatures we preserve from childhood…’ (

I love Coates’s use of everyday objects to represent the roads and buildings, and the scale really captures my imagination – I’ve never lost my childhood obsession with minature things!  It reminded me of this, which I love,  – Slinkachu’s tiny models placed in public places doing everyday, and not so everyday, things:

Images from


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