Body Doubles

“A map is a representation on paper – a picture – you understand? – a picture – showing, representing this country – yes?” Books have been written on what maps are and are not; I know, I am presently wading through them for the PhD. In amongst the dry, the erudite and the dull are gems that are causing me to rethink what I assumed to know. First up among them are the 19th Century training manuals used to teach cadets to draw maps. To explain the contours of a landscape some required students to study the body: above on the left, a face is depicted through contour and hachure, it does little to reveal features or character, it is designed to give accurate elevation of the nose: an unusual characteristic for a portrait. So, there is on the one hand the body as ‘body double’ for landscape and then, as alluded to in the previous post, the bodies of the surveyors in the landscape.

The quote at the beginning is from Brian Friel’s Translations (1981, with many thanks to Matty for alerting me to it), where creatively imagined transactions between OS men and locals abound. How peculiar they would have appeared, these men traversing their land with chains. It’s easy to forget colour when thinking of the past: black, white and sepia have a stranglehold on imaginings, but thanks to the painting cited in the previous post, I now see a sluagh of Red coats in Green fields. As if some 20th Century ‘Land Art’ or Site-Specific Performance strayed the bonds of time.

Posts will be less frequent now that I need to be serious and orderly with regard to learning, but to those among you who enjoy reading (to the end), I wish you a very happy new year!

The image is taken from VRV Streffleur’s Der gegenwärtige Standpunkt der Bergzeichnung in Plänen und Landkarten, 1868.With thanks to Anne Taylor, Head of Map Department, Cambridge University Library and the Charles Close Society.

About karenrann

Karen is a visual artist drawn to working from a sense of place
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2 Responses to Body Doubles

  1. Pingback: Horizontal and Vertical Mountains | The Great Lines

  2. Pingback: Body Doubles 2 | The Great Lines

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