Fuller's Dymaxion 1946 cartography patent. Oh these patents. Such energy has been expended in mapping to render the three-dimension sphere on flat paper without distortion, or at least with understandable distortion. We no longer understand such distortions but there is a lively discussion of the politics of map-making, several of which we had in On Site review 31: mapping | photography. The Dymaxion map is an icosahedron where to preserve the actual shape of the continents and oceans, bits are lost in the edges of each triangular excerpt.
Dymaxion: dynamic, maximum and tension. It was Fuller's mantra, but it is quite surprising how far his ideas spread: far beyond domes and living off the grid. Most of his work in housing and cars was done before WWII, and little was financially viable. After, he mostly wrote and lectured and this is where his influence sank deep into the postwar American art movement. Black Mountain College also keeps reoccurring as a site where everyone met everyone else, John Cage especially. 1948-50 or so seems to have been a period of wide-open possibility where all disciplines were in intense conversation with each other.
In 1990, Hans Namuth and Judith Wechsler made a film about Jasper Johns: Jasper Johns: Take an Object.
It begins with Jasper Johns painting a huge dymaxion map (destined for Expo 67, now in Cologne's Museum Ludwig), Janis Joplin on in the background. Then comes John Cage reading a selection of Johns' statements: 'art is either a complaint or an appeasement'. One can see traces of the map that keeps occurring in the way patches of colour or marks or objects sit in some folded relationship on the canvas. But that aside, this is a truly rivetting film, and reminds me again of why Jasper Johns is so important.