Project info

Legend draws direct comparisons between cartographic symbols - found in topographic maps - and the real-world landforms, features and points of interest they represent. What interests me is how the infinite complexities, variations, meanings, and histories that are rooted in our environments are reproduced as a uniform and repeatable graphic language in maps. In order to decode the map’s information, symbols are generally presented with short statements (called a legend, or key) that explain their meaning. Without this system of denotation, the symbols become purely abstract.

In this ongoing series I remove any explanatory statements and replace them with photographs of actual places the symbols refer to. I am inviting the viewer to decode the meaning through use of a ‘photographic legend’ instead. It’s interesting to consider that the symbols and the photographs are essentially ‘pictures’ of the same thing.

But beyond the simple identification of a said landform or feature, there are deeper and more complex associations within each photograph – some historical or cultural, some social or economic, some geological, and some personal - because this series is not just a comparison between real-life landscapes and their abstract cartographic equivalents. This is an exploration of the notion of place in an evermore ‘placeless’ and commoditised global society - where the meanings and symbolic importance of place are being diminished or discarded, often replaced with standardised and inauthentic environments.

[Symbols reproduced from Geoscience Australia’s Symbol Dictionary for Topographic Map Production]