War against Entropy
This pair of prints was the first cartographic drawing into which I incorporated other pictorial devices. The maps themselves are based on the quincuncial projection designed by Charles S. Peirce in the 1870s while he worked for the US Coast Guard. In that projection the globe is transformed into a square, unfolding the polar graticule such that there are five corners (hence quincuncial) with one pole situated in the centre of the square and the other split among the four outside corners. This projection can be tesselated; a potentially infinite plain of repeated square maps is possible. Here the map is repeated four times and rearranged into a donut form using the polar filter in Adobe Photoshop, before being re-drawn as a vector-based image. The two prints have opposite configurations of the projection, with either North or South Poles at the centre.
The top of each print is draped with a curtain- or veil-type design. Like their foreground figures they are of negative colour values relative to one other. These serve as the backdrops for a simple perceptual map in the left print, and a figure-eight rearrangement of a painting (Apollo and Phaeton, by Giovanni Manzoni, 1635) which embodies the idea of the diurnal cycle of time in the right. The perceptual maps on the left are based on the fields of vision from my left and right eyes, with the peripheries of my brow, upper cheeks and the line of my nose visible from either side. The backdrop, curved as if seen through a fisheye lens, is also within these circular fields of view, which otherwise do not extend beyond the tip of my nose. This is consistent with the uncorrected monocular field of vision, which our minds re-orient into the binocular and perspectival space with which we are more familiar. The painting of Apollo and Phaeton on the right is both distorted and rendered as a negative image. The legend of Phaeton driving the chariot of Apollo, traveling too close to the sun and losing control, is repeated, Sisyphus-like, in a cycle that turns back upon itself in a loop, coloured in the inverted tones of a photographic negative, not of the visible day. It is an occult presence in the literal sense. The figure-eight configuration is like a ballroom mask which corresponds to the rather myopic ocular views detailed in the same position of the left print.
The central motif in the left print is derived from the well-known image of the zodiac, depicted in the Duc de Berry manuscript illustrated by the Limbourg Brothers in the early 14th Century. The figures are covered from head to toe with the twelve signs of the zodiac, with a man facing the viewer, and a female counterpart behind. These figures are also distorted into a polarized double, which surrounds an inverted polarized double of the surrounding elements of the original image, which are conceived in that interiority as a microcosm, like a pregnant bicephalic, bicorporate spherical creature of the creation myth in Plato’s Symposium, which it resembles. The purport however, is not directly related to the myths of creation, but to the anthropocentric view of the Universe beyond our world, which is very much framed from within our terrestrial perspective. The central part of the right print remains void.
The title is more or less a testament to our human propensity to recreate variations upon our world in our own image, or in semblance to our own logic, in spite of the overwhelming chaos of every other factor of existence, in the scales of time and space too small or too large for our purview.
These prints were purchased by the Nova Scotia Art Bank in 2000, when they were incorrectly titled, “The War Against Entrophy” in a letter signed by then-Tourism and Culture Minister Rodney MacDonald. They currently hang in a corridor of the Nova Scotia Dept. of Public Prosecution.