Intricate, Hand-Crafted, Paper-Cut Maps Expose Familiar Cities’ Hidden Treasures
Artist Virgilijus Trakimavicius offers an artful alternative to the abundance of digitally ephemeral cartography.
We live in a time where detailed, dynamic, vibrant city maps are available to us at the push of a button. Software from Google, Foursquare, and Waze (to name just a few) has revolutionized the world of cartography by insta-generating digital filters through which we can better–or, at least, more efficiently–navigate our urban environments. But, in our rush to create bigger, better, faster maps, perhaps we’ve lost something as well: An appreciation for both the delicate, intricate craft of map making itself, and, by extension, the subtle, organic flow of the cities depicted therein.
It is that sense of deliberate craftsmanship, and urban biology which one finds in Lithuanian graphic designer Virgilijus "Virgis" Trakimavicius astonishing city map paper-cuts. Each map–created by hand–depicts cities both familiar in their basic shape, and utterly unique in their realization.
As Trakimavicius explains in an artist’s statement sent to GOOD:
[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]Most of my current works involve hand-cut paper sheets. On these sheets, which are based on actual cities, I try to discover the fragments of an angel, the blossoming of a tree, the memories of my past travels, a likeable street, and everything involving the city that I have visited or intend to visit in the future...[/quote]
Trakimavicius works as the head of Kaunas Faculty of Design at Lithuania’s Vilnius Academy of Arts. His paper-cuts have been shown at the gallery of the University of Katowice, the European Parliament, and the National Library of the Czech Republic. And while each of his pieces may evoke a sense of unhurried attention to detail, Virgis makes clear that, for him, there is as much value in expediency as there is in languidity.
[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]An empty sheet of paper leads to countless thoughts of how a new drawing could be developed. Pictures or prints can mirror the mood of the day and may appear tranquil or expressive. I mostly value works that can be finished in one sitting and don't require a great deal of strenuous exertion. Such works, at least in my opinion, quite accurately reflect my own philosophy and can be summed up in a single maxim - carpe diem.[/quote]
While Virgis’ own aesthetic sense may skew toward one-and-done productions, there is still an inescapable sense that within his handcrafted paper-cut maps lie a more-organic, less-ephemeral truth about the city depicted.
As Virgis himself admits, his maps are only “based on” their actual urban inspiration. Still, perhaps by being less faithful to concrete geometry (as a Google map, or Waze route might be) and more interested in the unique, intangible *feel* of a city, Virgis’ paper-cuts are able to capture a city’s essence in a way digitally-constructed maps, with their inexorable fidelity to reality, never could.