Figure-ground perception is the cognitive mechanism through which we apprehend our surroundings, isolating the figure – the words on the page, the features of a face, the lines on a map – from the background. It is how we orient ourselves, how we communicate, how we mediate and make order out of the torrential flux of sensory information around us, the well of what William James called ‘pure experience’. It is also one of the key principles of modern cartographic design.
This concept – with its connections to ideas of mapmaking, orientation, and cognition – became the organising principle of figure | ground, a publication featuring work by a range of artists and writers from around the world, published in December 2020. This is the first in a series of Numbered Editions, an experimental imprint for artists’ writing, co-founded by Nathan O’Donnell and Marysia Wieckiewicz-Carroll.
The publication has its origins in a 12-day curated residency at Cow House Studios in 2017, organised in collaboration with the centre’s director, Frank Abruzesse. Through a series of interactions – with facilitators and guest lecturers Christodoulos Makris, Sarah Pierce, Barry Dalby, Francis Halsall, Paul Ferguson, and Conor McGarrigle – the group of resident artists developed a set of questions in relation to cartographic practice, developing processes and propositions around (dis)orientation, non- Western mapping practices, walking-as-research, the psychogeography of the rural.
Contributing artists: Jennifer Brant, Marianne Hoffmeister Castro, Serena Lee, Eoghan McIntyre, Julia Mejnertsen, Wendy Peza, Sheilah (Wilson) ReStack, and Abigail Taubman
pp. | 155 x 247 mm
Printing: Print Media Services