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Jerry’s Map


  • Exhibition

  • October 5-14, 2012
  • Hunter Center

“Jerry has a certain kind of genius. He’s a world-builder.” — Mother Nature Network

In 1963 Jerry Gretzinger doodled a map of a small imaginary town. His sketch took on a life of its own and, as of his exhibition at MASS MoCA in 2012, was comprised of over 2,600 hand-crafted panels spanning a jaw-dropping 2,000 square feet. The world he depicted evolved and shape-shifted as he worked and re-worked a panel every day. To guide the evolution, Jerry devised an elaborate game of chance that features a card deck with instructions — the map’s “future predictor.” Each morning he chose a card at random that determined his course of action for that day — one day he might add new features to a panel, while on the next he might completely void one out. This is hand-wrought Minecraft on a truly massive scale.

The artist set up his studio in the Hunter Center, and MASS MoCA displayed the map (the first time it was ever displayed in its entirety) during the production of a new documentary film about Gretzinger by Greg Whitmore. Viewers could watch this fascinating artist at work, see a film being made, and learn about the game behind the map.

Guests enjoyed a meet-the-artist party on Saturday, October 6, 2012, and joined us for a free panel discussion with Jerry, Greg, local artist Lisa Nilsson, and moderator Shawn Rosenheim on October 4, 2012. Panelists discussed the complicated pleasure of mapping unseen worlds and how Jerry’s Map has inspired online Minecraft modules.

Photo by Stephen Taylor

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