On Topographic Maps and Fabricated Accuracy – within an Undecipherable Infinity

A topographic map is an attempt at creating spatial order in a segment of a planet that man has claimed to have a clear idea of for little more than a century. It is a detailed documentation with confirmed accuracy. Man contained the rhythm of the seasons, of the days and of distances in the regularity of the symbolic network of the calendar, the time (piece) and units of length. Through these symbols man seeks to assume control over nature’s games. The determining factor in human society becomes a triumph of the system of coordinates. Cataloguing the surface of man’s home planet by means of a system of signs is equally important for a cultural achievement: the development of the alphabet. Encoding and decoding is a linear process and observes a temporal sequence. Investigating a topographic map, however, allows our eyes to wander. The observer is thus free to decode the signs, provided he is able to interpret them. The perception of the environment has as the sine qua non relational reasoning; hence it is a two-dimensional model. From this point of view ensues for the individual the beginning of discerning his three-dimensional world in remarkable agreement with reality. A topographical map cannot be replaced by a pictorial representation of a landscape, for the map acquires its significance through signs which the viewer needs to be able to classify. This is why the viewer only sees what he already knows, and the topographic map becomes an abstract interpretational aid. Naturalistic signs as well as those not existing in the perception of a real landscape are employed in a topographical map. The non-real, visible signs are used to signify borders, restricted and prohibited areas, to set off buildings and tourist resorts. Depiction with the help of topographical maps is only limited by the human faculty of perception; hence it is congruent with the collective experience of spatial landscape. This finiteness and the limitations of permits of representation issued by totalitarian states is man-made.

Totalitarian states such as the German Democratic Republic did not give any clues to those trying to escape the GDR by omitting any information as to what was to be expected behind the “anti-fascist protective wall.” Werner A. Schöffel’s website navigation named Eikóninselland (Eikón island) contains the Greek term “Eikón.” The ancient Greeks used the term Eikón, image, when the appearance of reality of relations and basic relationships can be represented “correctly.” The literal translation “image” is to be understood in a somewhat extended manner. For it is not “real reality,” but rather possible appearance which sensualises reality.