Bryan Robertson: Superpower
November 7–December 15
Maps can envision the totalizing powers at work in the globalization of modern life. My cartography looks strangely recognizable but departs from any geographic context and highlights the difference between the Mercator and Gall-Peters projections. I am particularly interested in how the Mercator projection skews landmasses towards the north and south poles, making the Northern Hemisphere appear much larger than it is. I think this functions as a kind of propaganda for the places where power is centralized today.
For me, the creation of these maps visualizes the cyclical repurposing of territory from colonial outliers of nation-states to neo-colonial surrogates of transnational corporations. Sheldon Wolin describes this world as an “Inverted Totalitarianism,” that unlike classic fascism is not formed by nationalism, but rather by “private media that disseminates propaganda and encourages political disengagement” (Wolin 2008).
Consequently, these maps depict the major world economies as being under the thumb of corporate influence. In the Eurocentric Mercator projections, I see a kind of post-Cold War dynamic where capitalism overcomes communism. Where the 1st and 2nd worlds have merged into a cabal of "G-20" nations and the 3rd world remains relevant only in its commodity production. While the Gall-Peters maps depict a more modern world of fragmented and competing media forces that enhance the excesses of consumption and erase culture with scripted multinational narratives. In this version, the West is aware of the irony of its colonial past but has rewritten the history to describe the better world it is solely responsible for creating.