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The Map Is The Territory (3/3)

An active, ever-ongoing exploration of our Visual Cultural Database

June 12, 2013

[This is a guest post by Casey Cripe*, about his project The Map Is The Territory ( 3/3 )]


At age 25, I dropped out of art school,

schemed a self-directed study curriculum,
and began in earnest a thesis project designed to unfold & evolve over a lifetime—
a one-and-forever Magnum Opus.

I’m currently four years into this project, 29 years into this lifetime.
I followed my dream and am living it,
and, like any dream, it’s a bit difficult to pack into language,
and even more difficult to hand off to others as interesting,
but, I’ve been asked nicely to try, so I’ll oblige:

I collect imagery—diagrams & illustrations, mostly.
I trawl municipal libraries, bookstores, second-hand shops, the world wide web,
culling from the Collective Consciousness component-element icons of Universe,
all-the-while caching, curating, & categorizing these samples/specimens
into my own personal Image Reference Library.
This is the primary aspect of my self-directed study—
an active, ever-ongoing exploration of our Visual Cultural Database,
a survey of the topologies of any & all Pictorial Knowledge Structures
so far built by Humanity.

From this analysis, then a synthesis :
I craft artworks—maps of my encyclopedic explorations,
emergent pattern narratives from the symbols & motifs I’ve collected along my way.
The artworks are to multiply & accumulate over my lifetime,
be & become my Magnum Opus,
an emergent pattern narrative of it’s own.

the artworks exist as physical artifacts
( hand-made from the material of wood, paper, glue, paint, & pencil ),
and are designed to be living documents,
growing & evolving through time
as new territories are explored,
as old areas are revisited with new eyes,
as skills & concepts mature with age.

the artworks are all-of-a-piece
(totaling to-date @ approximately 25 and counting),
and are designed to be connected-&-whole,
exhibited-entire and arranged in deliberate sequence.
Each individual artwork illustrates its theme(s),
but when all artworks are together and in order,
the whole body of work illustrates a cyclical meta-narrative,
providing the observer with an expansive & immersive Wide-view + Long-view,
a journey along the spatial-axis of Cosmos & the temporal-axis of Human Destiny,
all themes interconnected.

As with the individual works,
the collective work also changes & grows over time—
new pieces are always being added to the sequence,
old pieces are replaced when purchased or obsolete,
even the structure of the sequence itself is open & flexible to revision & mutation.

This creature that I’ve created (am creating, is creating me),
is a mimetic organism of nested & interlocking systems, processes, and pace-layers.
It is a reflection of my own human existence,
the history of our species,
the evolution of Life on Earth,
the living narrative of Universe.
It is also a knowledge & memory prosthetic to aid in thinking & understanding,
a platform from which to ask questions, engage in dialogue with yourself and others.
It is a window & mirror, a telescope & microscope.
It is a way of seeing, living, being.
It is a map of, and for, my path,
each our individual paths,
Our path.

This is my scheme, this is the dream I’m dreaming.

Magnum Opus Sequence (3-3) (vertical)
(image: Casey Cripe)
MagnumOpusSequence(3-3), infographic by Casey Cripe
(image: Casey Cripe)

(The sequence of works featured here, PLANET EARTH (v.1.3), SPACE EXPLORATION (v.1.2 ), SOLAR SYSTEM (v.1.2), ENERGY/MATTER (v.2.2), represent the final fraction (3/3) of the collective body as displayed in-sequence.
In the present expression of the cyclical meta-narrative, it is the tail of the Ouroboros. Displayed horizontally, it measures approximately 7 meters from end-to-end.)

*Casey Cripe is a designer & builder & collector & explorer & observer & human. He lives in San Francisco, California
and can be contacted at

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.