Luis Gonçalo Vicente

Luis is a Design History practitioner with an interest in the Sea and how humanity has engaged with it. He believes water should be seen as a connector, rather than a barrier. His research focuses on colonial perceptions of land and seascapes, and how these were represented in maps.

Research Project

Precision and Print: Mapping the Philippines in the Malaspina Expedition (1792-93)

My research looks at maps in close detail to reveal their subjective nature.

Material Culture, Early-Modern, Europe, Asia, Applied Arts, Technologies, Methods of Documentation, Knowledge Production

[Mapa de la Isla de Luzón e Islas adyacentes], c.1792-93. Archivo Museo Naval de Madrid, MN-61-7.

In the second half of the eighteenth century, European voyages of exploration sailed across the Pacific Ocean, using increasingly technologically precise instruments and methods in the production of hydrographic and cartographic information. This information, in turn, returned to Europe and was translated into an extensive production of published maps, contributing to a growing sense of “planetary consciousness” in the European imperial subject.

While most of the bibliography on this tends to focus on British and French efforts, the Spanish had been present in the Pacific for centuries before, a presence centred around the Acapulco-Manila Galleon trade. Increasingly under pressure by British and French incursions into their supposed “Spanish Lake”, Madrid opted initially to focus on earlier explorations of the Pacific; however, they quickly began using increasingly precise methods in an attempt to keep up with their European counterparts. The Malaspina Expedition was the height of Spanish use of Precision, a five-year voyage throughout the Pacific coastlines under Spanish control.
My dissertation focuses on the hydrographic and cartographic production done in relation to a specific section of the Expedition, a nine-month period spent in the Philippines, between March and December 1792. Focusing on one of the most important border zones of Spanish colonial presence in the Pacific, the dissertation aims to look at how precision and printing intentions influenced map design in relation to the information acquired in the Filipino Archipelago, and how these two concepts interact with one another. Findings suggest that, at this time, precision is highly selective, and that printing intentions lead to a simplification of precise information – all in the name of colonial control in the Pacific.

Plano del Puerto de Sorgoson, c.1792-93. Archivo Museo Naval de Madrid, MN-70-4.

José Felipe de Inciarte, Carta Esférica Del gran Canal formado entre las Yslas Panay, Negro y Guimaras en el Archipiélago Filipino, 1806. Archivo Museo Naval de Madrid, MN-73-14.

Symposium Presentation ︎︎︎

Transcultural Objects Panel ︎︎︎

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