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The Atlas is Painless

Mathematician Jason LaFerrera's digitally-manipulated maps depicting birds and beasts

by Jacob Resneck in Culture on 05 August 2010

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Combining two of the nerdiest disciplines out there, ornithology and cartography, former music producer Jason LaFerrera creates curious collages of birds and beasts by recasting old maps into quaintly colorful still-life—of the kind more commonly seen on postage stamps.

"I digitally manipulate cartographic materials to create fauna, mostly birds, in poses reminiscent of field guides from a similarly early era of publication," the Richmond, VA native's site explains. "The patterns of forests and shores often become an animal's feathers or fur, while the rings of topography often trace out wings or antlers." By posing the beauty of maps themselves with idealized depictions of nature, LaFerrera (who currently studies Mathematics at Columbia) is a kind of eco-Duchamp, drawing on readymades, upcycling and cliché images to make a point about our relationship to the natural world.

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Visitors to Tennessee can catch his solo show, "The Atlas Is Painless," at the Renaissance Center

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His collection of fauna is under a website that's under a Creative Commons License, allowing his work to be shared, altered and reproduced for non-commercial purposes. Pieces sell directly from his online shop and range between $40 and $225.

"The Atlas is Painless" runs through 28 August 2010.

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