Aesthetics and cartography : post-critical reflections on deviance in and of representations
Cartographic representations are subject to sensory perception and rely on the translation of sensory perceptions into cartographic symbols. In this respect, cartography is closely related to aesthetics, as it represents an academic discipline of sensory perceptions. The scholarly concern with cartographic aesthetics, by today, has strongly been focused on the aesthetic impact of cartographic representations. The consideration of the philosophical sub-discipline of aesthetics however is rather restrained. This is also true for the connection between sociological questions and the social construction of aesthetic judgments. We address both topics in this article. We refer to post-critical cartographic theory. It accepts the socially constructed nature and power-bound nature of maps but does not reject “traditional” and widely established positivist cartography. Drawing on the theory of deviant cartographies related to this, we understand cartography designed according to aesthetic criteria as meta-deviant, as it makes the contingency of world interpretations clear. Especially augmented and virtual environments show a great potential to generate aesthetically constructed cartographic representations. Participatory cartography enables many people to reflect on the contingency of their spatial experiences and spatial abstractions without expert-like special knowledge. A prerequisite, however, is the greatest possible openness to topics and representations. This is not subject to a moral restriction.