Jerry Gretzinger’s Map

Jerry Gretzinger’s map displayed at ArtPrize 2009 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photo by Rodney Martin

ICity-building can be as much of an art as anything else, but Jerry Gretzinger takes that to a whole new level with his map. His map is really a world onto itself with cities, suburbs, farmland, forests, deserts, and oceans – and beyond that, what he calls the “void”.

Jerry’s map “began as just a doodle” in 1963. Almost fifty years and 2,000 panels later, he has worked or reworked one of his map’s panels every day. Like real-world landscapes and cities, his map has evolved over time as he has redrawn portions of it. To guide his map’s evolution, he has created an elaborate world-building system that features a card deck with instructions, the map’s “future predictor”. Each morning he chooses a card at random that determines whether he’ll add new features to a panel or completely void it out.

A close-up of the map showing one of the many urban centers. Photo by Rodney Martin

Jerry Gretzinger: Mapping the Void (Documentary)

The map is truly a life’s work. There’s an eleven-minute documentary on Jerry’s map by Gregory Whitmore that’s definitely worth a watch if you want to learn more about the map and his artistic process.

You can also follow the future of the map at Jerry’s Blog.

Photos by Rodney Martin

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