I “discovered” the globe as a communication medium in 1988. Especially in those pre-Internet days, I saw both the need for consolidating information about the entirety of the global condition and the possibility of mapping these data on a sphere. It was the quintessential medium to chronicle and represent the elements that condition the new emerging globality. And it was time to expand the 500-year-old world globe to serve the needs of the twentieth and now twenty-first century.
The Worldprocessor project is inspired by art, journalism, and scientific research. It is trying to be as accurate and objective as possible, but it is also trying to generate intuitively accessible, comprehensive, and memorable visuals. It is designed specifically for presentation in installations so as to engage and encourage visitors to interact with the topics and with each other. These globes serve as vectors and catalysts, as “conversation pieces,” as much as they serve to convey a comprehensive data reality.
Traditionally, I have relied exclusively on existing data to show what the world is like (beyond the geography provided on globes) and to give a useful sense of proportion and dimension. Recently, given the rapid change of development and therefore data, I came to the conclusion that historical data (even when they are updated) are no longer as useful as they once were. The scope and speed of change have accelerated, and analog/linear projections, while intuitive, are likely misleading. Change is now often exponential, especially since just about everything today is subject to datafication, connectivity, and some form of digital data quantification and control. No leveling off in this trend can be expected anytime soon. In view of this, I am now starting to expand the project into a series of data projection and forecasting globes that deal with rivaling and contradictory prognoses and methodologies.
500 years after the invention of the globe I started to map the new condition of globality. Over the last 25 years over1,000 globes were made covering whatever appeared to mappable - and global.
I am interested in the incomprehensibility of the world’s totality. No matter how much data we have and how much more we know, we never see enough and most often miss the big picture – dimension, the proportions of the possible, of reality. I see my work as a kind of journalism using visual aesthetic means.
The scale of 1:40 million requires a careful selection of relevant data as much as the structuring and representing.