Melissa Peterson Art

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Manifest Destiny                                                                 

Artist Statement                                                          Work

The pervasiveness of the English language is glaring evidence of its users’ influence, and is certainly base for how many of us reading this have come to (theoretically) understand and define our worlds. In a similar way, the discipline of cartography[1] has allowed the world to define and understand geographical terrain. Utilizing drawing to reproduce city maps from western and non-western cities alike, then superimposing them onto the English alphabet[2] regardless of official national language, allows for an examination of the impact of what is being regarded as globalized manifest destiny, by indicating how inescapable English-language culture has become for many nations as a result of globalization and other neo-colonialistic practices, which is brought to fruition upon seeing that the differences between English and non-English speaking cities’ maps are nearly indistinguishable to the untrained eye.

[1] Cartography, or map-making, builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively. Symbols utilized are presented in a legend for clarification. Written language and drawing function similarly, with the alphabet’s individual letters or the marks on the page functioning as signifiers whose different combinations represent different denotata, dictated mostly by cultural understanding.

[2] Helvetica was chosen due to its growing popularity and wide range of uses, from advertising to government paperwork, due to its legibility and simple design, as well as its opposition to 'old school' decorative typefaces.

Helvetica typeface also features a trait of neutrality because of its wide variety of uses and adaptability. The font was designed not to give an impression or have any inherent meaning.

It also has historically heavy use and significance in the conceptual art realm.

Manifest Destiny; Copyright 2011, MP

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