My “Rearranged World” series serve as an analogy to the destructive and creative processes of both nature and humanity, and how humans try to transform the chaos of nature into order. Each piece begins with letterpress typeset tray, discarded from a Chinese print shop that used a technology that has been supplanted by digital reproduction. Inserted within each niche are strips of maps taken from old atlases, with representations of a “rearranged” world from our recent past, one that has since been further altered by humanity.
Cartography began as a continuation of my themes combining map imagery with wrestlers and similar figures in hand-to-hand combat, symbolizing how human conflict has effectively reshaped the earth in our image and to accommodate us. The maps in the background are shaped by and react to the activity of humans.
When I conceived of the first works in this series in 2007, I wanted to work large but was at an art workshop and not in a location where I could acquire and transport large canvases or other large format materials, so I made the work from small pieces of cardboard I found in the street and pieced them together. I made a couple of important discoveries working this way. Using “recycled” materials freed me up to be less precious about the work, allowing me to explore themes and styles in a way that I resisted previously. And the modularity also made composition and arrangement of the work infinitely flexible.
The modularity also allowed me to continuously expand and contract the scale of each work, swapping and exchanging entire sections of a work that could theoretically be any size that I want. I’ve worked on sections of Cartography since 2000 and continue to combine large and previously unrelated portions into a mural installation.