Please, accept cookies in order to load the content.

Scroll to explore Vertical Atlas

Vertical Atlas is a new atlas to help us navigate the digital geopolitics of the world today. Vertical Atlas is a book, a digital publication and an exhibition. Join us for the festive launch of Vertical Atlas on Thursday October 27th, 8pm at Het Nieuwe Instituut. With lectures by Nanjala Nyabola, Benjamin H. Bratton and a performance by Francois Knoetze. 

The Vertical Atlas project aims to create a new atlas to help navigate the complex techno-politics of the world today. The first stage of Vertical Atlas was developed through a series of five public talks and research labs (2018-2019). Currently Vertical Atlas focuses on the development and realisation of a combined physical and digital publication.

Join us for the festive launch of Vertical Atlas on Thursday October 27th, 8pm at Het Nieuwe Instituut. With lectures by Nanjala Nyabola, Benjamin H. Bratton and a performance by Francois Knoetze. 

Access the free digital publication here (available from October 27th, 2022)

The Vertical Atlas book will be available for purchase at the bookshop in Het Nieuwe Instituut. Pre-Order the book via the ArtEZ Press webshop here

Navigating techno-political realities

Navigating the technological realities we live in has become increasingly difficult. Old cultural, economic and political structures are now mixed, overlayed, infiltrated, enhanced and undermined by a set of new technological fixtures. The computer in the palm of your hand is the entry point to an accidental planetary structure linking lithium mines in Chile to offshore data servers in Russia, to fibre-optic submarine cables in the Atlantic to freeports in Singapore, to corporate-owned satellites in orbit, to a swelling quantity of IP addresses and teraflops of data.

Current navigation tools cannot account for new folded, fractal borders created in digital space and that materialise in cobalt mines in Congo, owned by Chinese state run companies, or in digital interfaces intended to discourage immigration. Cities as well as states and other organisations are becoming increasingly non-local digital platforms, while cloud platforms have taken over some traditional government roles such as identification and cartography. If we want to use maps as wayfinding tools or navigational aids, then we need other kinds of mappings to guide us through these new formations in hybrid spaces.

Other cartographies

Cartography has for centuries been a tool in the service of existing power structures. It helped organise the colonial project of Western powers, and in turn reflected and codified its effects. Current corporate-run mapping systems such as Google Maps or Bing are made to serve the needs of global and local market powers, and in doing so reflect once again, a singular, implicitly normalised perspective that has inherited traits of the colonial project. 

In this context, Vertical Atlas proposes a multifocal as well as multivocal approach, one which prevents one standardised perspective informing the depictions of the world. Rather, the project adopts different perspectives and techniques in order to acknowledge realities from different positioned cultural, political, biological, machinic and other embodiments.


During the 2018-2019 Vertical Atlas Research Labs five geozones were explored and re-mapped, focusing on the technological and political borders, connections and frictions within them, and looking at the different ways digital technologies function culturally.

Geozones are a trans-continental regions that defy common cartographical logics. They are characterised by certain techno-political arrangements and their related set of frictions and fractures among political, economic and algorithmic sovereignties. The project invited prominent voices in policy making, law, art, design and technology to develop new perspectives on global and regional techno-politics. The content produced and documented from these events is available in this web magazine. 


Mappings in Vertical Atlas together deploy a wide set of coordinates representing spatial, temporal, qualitative, aesthetic, political, material technological dimensions of the issues at stake. In his book The Stack, Benjamin Bratton proposes a model that helps understand the global digital sphere through the metaphor of a platform with six functional layers. Yuk Hui in The Question Concerning Technology in China, develops the notion of cosmotechnics, exploring the cultural functioning of technology through other metaphysical lenses than the universalistic western take. 

These concepts, among others, serve as reference frames for the Vertical Atlas project. All mapping contributions are led by people who have direct, lived experience with situated techno-political architectures. 


Vertical Atlas is a collaboration between Hivos and Het Nieuwe Instituut. The editors are Leonardo Dellanoce, Amal Khalaf, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Nanjala Nyabola, Renée Roukens, Arthur Steiner and Mi You. Vertical Atlas was initiated in 2018 by Benjamin Bratton, Leonardo Dellanoce, Arthur Steiner and Klaas Kuitenbrouwer.

Supported by Sida, Creative Industries Fund NL, New Silk Roads


Vertical Atlas was made possible thanks to the generous support of:

Kévin Bray
Het Nieuwe Instituut and Digital Earth
Benjamin Bratton, Arthur Steiner, Leonardo Dellanoce, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer