Artist Erika Osborne paints topographical lines on people’s backs. Then she positions them in front of corresponding maps and landscapes and photographs them. The idea behind Osborne’s mapping project is to encourage people to think about the cognitive differences (and similarities) between looking at a place firsthand, reading a map, and seeing a picture of a place. It’s an exploration of our levels of remove–and what these teach and hide from us. Some might regain appreciation for how maps position us in the landscape. (Cartography is after all one of the oldest and most sophisticated graphic technologies invented by humans!) Some might be reminded of the pre-camera phone pleasure of just looking at a landscape without a lens.
An archive exhibition of Osborne’s mapping project (2005-2010) is on view at the Nevada Museum of Art, Center for Art + Environment, until November 17, 2013. When not unfolding maps on the road, Ms. Osborne teaches at West Virginia University in Morgantown, where she runs the Art and Environment and Place: Appalachia.