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Blind maps and blue dots: the blurring of the producer–user divide in the production of visual information

This dissertation of Joost Grootens explores the question of what contemporary mapmaking practices can reveal about the ever-evolving field of graphic design. The shift towards digital modes of production has fundamentally changed the field of graphic design, to the extent that a clear distinction between the producers and users of visual information no longer exists. The evaluation of graphic design’s recent developments is too strongly focused on what happened to the persona of the graphic designer. In this research an alternative model is introduced that focuses on the technologies that have shaped the field. Graphic design and cartography have different origins and concerns, but their contemporary practices have much in common. In this research, cartography is considered a testing ground to understand the transformations of graphic design. Adopting notions from post-representational cartography, three mapmaking practices of amateurs and technology companies were selected to survey, analyse and test that transformation. The dissertation contains of a series of visualizations that embody an alternative documentation of the research. The development of alternative and complementary languages is considered to be an essential aspect of artistic research. This parallel visual documentation of the research questions the discursive text, and all the prejudices and histories contained within it.

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