Paris mapcut by Karen O'Leary


Karen O'Leary creates hand-cut city maps from paper. She just finished Paris, and it is shown above. More here, and her Flickr stream is here.


  1. I love this piece.
    Would it be any less awesome if it was laser-cut?
    If so why?
    What if it was laser-cut, but advertised as hand cut?

    1. To answer your two questions:

      Depends on who you ask. Since there is so much empahsis on the process and the artist, most people would say yes, it is less awesome if it is laser cut. The amount of time spent and the “aura” of handcrafting tends to be added to a piece’s artistic value.

      If laser cut but advertised as hand made, that’s just lying and beside the point. What matters is if the piece’s viewers believe the lie, in which case most would still be impressed.

  2. I studied medieval Paris once; now I always look for the ghosts of old cities in street outlines.

    Is it the raw information density that makes things like this so beautiful? I’m not sure if the things I know about what I’m looking at hinders or enhances it.

  3. It is pretty awesome – it’s what would happen if you could get a spider to spin a web using paper.

    It also reminds me of some early models of electronic structure deduced from X-ray measurements. The researchers produced a 3D rendering of their protein by tracing out a number of clear acetates and stacking them on top of each other.

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