Alternative Maps series:

Handheld Utopias, 2017

Handheld Utopias, 2017

28" x 28" 

Cyanotypes, cast plaster


For centuries, globes have signified power, education, and scientific inquiry, but are often out-of-date just after they are produced. "Handheld Utopias" explores the globe as an ephemeral printed object and a device for presenting (and distorting) spatial and political relationships. It features a borderless map comprised of designs, patterns, and architecture from the banknotes of 195 countries, rendered as a three-dimensional cyanotype blueprint with traditional globe-building techniques and specialized software. 

In cartography, a projection is a rendering of three-dimensional space to two dimensions. From medieval shipping maps to Google Earth images, efforts to convey geographic relationships have been embedded with the privilege and perspectives of the map-maker, from relative scales of countries to international borders. The Handheld Utopias projections feature cyanotype blueprints that are distorted in such a way to conform to the spherical surface of a globe, and offer a fractured presentation of oceans and continents in a form we do not typically view as a flat map.

© Susanna Crum, 2008-2020