Like a plant that blooms and wilts based upon the weather, cities grow and contract based upon the population as well as natural/man-made disasters like fires, floods and earthquakes. Oregon-based artist Matthew Picton builds 3-dimensional maps of cities that capture the state of the city during pivotal moments in their history. Using books, newspapers and other textual materials, Picton has constructed London in wartime 1940, San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake, as well as many other places.
In “London 1940″ four panels represent the different wards of East London during World War II. Based on bomb damage maps of wartime London, the completed paper buildings were carefully burned in accordance to the historical records. Each panel was constructed from a book that corresponds to the individual wards. Together these books – Rosie Alison’s “The Very Thought of You,” and novels by Christopher Fowler, Graham Greene and Elizabeth Bowen - provide a portrait of life in London during the 1940s.
From the artist’s website: “Cities are often described as living organisms; viewed as subject rather than object. Matthew Picton engages with this tradition of humanising the city by deconstructing the clean, uncompromising aesthetic of the cartographic city plan and imbuing it with the unique history and culture of each place… Picton depicts these cities as active participants, affected by outside sources and shaped by their internal social structure. The city becomes a subject and an entity of its own.”