The Paradox of the Coastline

I love maps. Old maps, new maps, virtual maps, paper maps; maps that tell stories about the people who drew them and the people who used them. I use mosaic cartography to tell my own stories, in my own time. After several years of exploration into the nuance of map culture, I have realized that my focus hinges more and more on the coastlines. The spaces where land and sea bang up against each other are where the magic happens for me.

A work of art can be beautiful, but without tension, or better yet, drama, it can be hard to identify with it in an emotional way. My drama happens along the lines of the coasts where opposites collide. I build lines with pieces of things. In order to build a line that is elegant and uncompromised, I follow a particular set of classical rules. By choosing to build these lines along the snaking, fractal-like perimeter of a coastline, I set myself up for failure. As a mosaic artist who works within the laws of andamento, I have come to see my coast work as a paradox. A paradox can be defined as a proposition that seems self-contradictory or something that can be true and false at the same time.

The scientific coastline paradox is the observation that the coastline of a landmass can never be measured the same length twice. This results from the fractal-like properties of coastlines. The first recorded observation of this phenomenon was by Lewis Fry Richardson.

In my coastline paradox, I will keep reinventing the line, hoping for success, but in the end, not really needing it.

"Down By The River #1" (2015)
“Down By The River #1” (2015)
Rachel Sager "Paradox of the Coastline #1" mosaic map coastline cartography
“Paradox of the Coastline #1” (2014)
Rachel Sager "Paradox of the Coastline #2" mosaic - map cartography coastline
“Paradox of the Coastline #2” (2014)
Rachel Sager "Cape of the Cod" mosaic - map cartography
“Cape of the Cod” (2013)
Rachel Sager "Center of the Universe" mosaic map cartography
“The Center of the Universe” (2013)
Rachel Sager "Ode to a legacy" mosaic coastline map cartography
“Ode to a Legacy” (2012)
Rachel Sager "The Back Room" picassiette mosaic - coastline map
“The Back Room” (2012)