laser cut plywood, steel sheet

dimensions variable depending on site


Cryptosphere was the first artist residency to be held by the Royal Geographical Society. Nelson investigated thousands of the Society’s extensive map collection dating back to the fifteenth century. He focused on maps that consider mythical places as physical locations and the evolution of Western cartography.

I systematically documented early modern maps that considered mythical places as physical locations and developed a sequence of maps demonstrating the evolution of Western cartography from a mythological to a scientific framework. It was the first artist residency staged by the RGS. It also directly engaged with science and belief and was positioned within debates on post-secularism. It was interdisciplinary in scope with consultation and contribution from scholars and thinkers on this hybrid topic.

The residency culminated in an exhibition at the RGS exhibition space on Exhibition Road in April/May 2008 which consisted of a new installation of a large modular sculptural system based on the complex framing systems of early modern European cartography.

An extensively illustrated book was published by Parabola with essays by leading academics and writers including Denis Cosgrove, the late Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Geography at UCLA, Denis Alexander, director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Cambridge, Dr Alessandro Scafi, The Warburg Institute and Rebecca Geldard, a London based art critic and Jordan Kaplan, curator with Parabola.

A public symposium attended by about 60 academics, artists and the public was held on Friday 9 May 2008 with presentations from myself, Dr Catherine Souch, head of Research at the Royal Geographical Society, Prof Felix Driver, RHUL and Dr Alessandro Scafi of the Warburg Institute.

In 2010 Cryptosphere was reconfigured and recontextualised for an exhibtion, Objet Perdu at Plataforma Revolver, Lisbon curated by Mario Caeiro.

Cryptosphere was funded by the Leverhulme foundation and the Arts Council England. It was project-managed and curated by Parabola, a London based commissioning organisation.

Related Links

Cryptosphere Catalogue

Objet Perdu Catalogue




Related Texts

Cryptosphere Catalogue