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June 1, 2007 | THIS ALTOGETHER THUNDER

Somehow the vital connection is made

In many ways I think the internet is more exciting for the visual arts than it is for reading. I mean, just in my own bedroom I have hundreds of books containing thousands of hours of great reading, all of which is far better written than anything I can find online. But interesting artwork is harder to come by in daily life.

I can’t do justice to the scale of visual arts on the web — I’ll leave the task to those far more astute than I — but occasionally I stumble upon something that really strikes me, often via my favorite art blogs (like the always amazing Monster Brains ). Sometime recently, though, I hit upon the website of Nina Katchadourian and was immediately taken by her work with maps, especially her world map :

World Map by Nina Katchadourian

I wish I had thought of this myself! Such a simple idea but so arresting in execution. Katchadourian’s work is essentially a visual example of what I want to do with my life: linking up Pakistan and Peru, bridging Tanzania and Tajikistan, remixing cultures and continents.

World Map (detail) by Nina Katchadourian

If only we really could move countries around helter-skelter, so that we could step out the door and into another worldview. I guess it’s not likely to happen, though I occasionally have dreams in which I find myself ruefully exclaiming: “If only they’d had these magical conduits back when I was working in Poland — I could have just walked through and saved all the airfare!”

Until we’ve mastered teleportation, though, there is the long and hard work of making people aware of those other parts of the world that don’t lie conveniently at their footstep. I can only hope that the arts can help us make the connection…