1:1 (AFTER UMBERTO) – 2016
1:1 scale plan on canvas tarpaulin, perspex marker, audio recording
This map is a realisation of Umberto Eco’s 1982 essay 'On the Impossibility of Drawing a Map of the Empire on a Scale of 1 to 1' – an absurdist 'thought-experiment' designed to explore the provably-invalid nature of representations on a 1:1 scale. The essay itself was created in response to Jorge Luis Borges’ short story 'On Exactitude in Science' (1946) that, through farcical exposition, explored the inherent complexities and logistical absurdities of such an undertaking. Eco's essay is clearly not intended to be an instruction manual, but in a digital world where maps have been reduced to the size of our screens and have lost all sense of physicality, the impossibility of representing the real becomes an alluring proposition.
Making a map on a scale of 1:1 is clearly a useless exercise – for it is an object that serves no real function. Yet in physical form, a map of this scale forces us to confront the boundaries between the real and the representation – challenging our expectations of objects that signify.
This map, commissioned for the exhibition ‘The Fraud Complex’ (curated by Peter Johnson and Denise Thwaites) and presented as part of the 2016 Next Wave Festival, is a depiction of 'Frontspace' at Westspace (Melbourne, VIC) and is a 1:1 rendering of the gallery in which this performance was filmed.
The 1:1 map is intended to be reused in subsequent iterations and gradually ‘mapped-over’ – creating a colonial territorialisation of the empty yet loaded 'space a gallery represents. This will continue until a gallery space in each state and territory of Australia has been documented.
Umberto Eco's essay 'On the Impossibility of Drawing a Map of the Empire on a Scale of 1 to 1' from 'How to Travel with Salmon' is narrated by artist Julian Day (www.julianday.com).