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Cézanne as a Cartographer

A Conference Paper by Doug Specht, published by GIS Professional

Stephen Booth, editor in chief of GIS Professional, has written, in their December issue, about seeing Doug Specht present on his work examining the relationship between post-impressionist art and cartography. Below we present an extract from the full article.

65978-200The next speaker really was a departure from what we’re used at a geo event. Doug Specht is a researcher in communications at the University of Westminster. His philosophical presentation was about the ‘ugly untruths of data’. He took us back to a day in 1910 when the author and socialite Virginia Wolf wrote, after an exhibition of post-impressionist painters, that “today human nature has changed”. What had attracted Woolf’s keen eye and that of our speaker, was Cezanne’s numerous “non-finito” canvases. Hitherto, painters had tried to portray reality by painting near perfect representations of the world. The form behind those brilliant dabs of Cezanne’s vivid colours on a white canvass could still be recognised as the Mont St Victoire, which he’d painted again and again in his search for some kind of reality. For Specht the interesting aspect was what he’d left out. The writer and TV presenter of “Ways of Seeing”, John Berger , once described ‘an absence is a painting’, a notion also applicable to maps posited Doug. Plenty to ruminate on there.

The full article by Stephen Booth is available here: http://www.pvpubs.com/DigitalEdition/GISProfessional/GISPRO201612/HTML/index.html#2

Doug Specht


Doug Specht is a Chartered Geographer (CGeog. FRGS) and a Senior Lecturer (SFHEA) at the Communication and Media Research Institute, within the University of Westminster. His research examines how knowledge is constructed and codified through digital and cartographic artefacts, focusing on development issues, and he has written on this subject in numerous books and papers. He has also spoken on topics of data ethics and mapping practices at conferences and invited lectures around the world. He is a member of the editorial board at Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, and sits on BSi committee IST/36 Geographic Information, where he focuses on geographic data in the SDGs. Doug is additionally a trustee of the Santa Rosa Fund, an educational charity; and a core member of the Environmental Network for Central America.


21 December 2016
Published By
GIS Professional
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