L.S. Issmael, P.M.L. Menezes

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Departamento de Geografia, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil


Although having a long history, coming since ancient times, Cartography as a Science is a very early matter. This delay occurred because the trends of technicians approach of its research, only related to the artistic map elements.

The attempt to imposing a theoretical field, called Theoretical Cartography, only occurred significantly after the World War II, when began discussions about the visual impression importance, in cartographic design, as well as clarity and legibility of maps. So a general analysis of all processes was carried out, and it was presented the new Cartographic Communication theories, mainly through researches as The Look of Maps, by Robinson.

At the beginning of Seventies, some cartographers developed communication models about cartographic information, and the discussion among researchers made possible several theoretical analyses of Cartography. The aim of the researchers was to establish a theoretical system to support Cartography as science.

Under this approach, the Theory of Cartographic Communication was developed and introduced the Modeling, Semiology and Cognition Theories. Although existing some terminologies difference between each one, each of them kept the same set of analysis: reality, map designer or cartographer, map reader or map and image reality user, with changes only on the information ways, that could be through the model, semiology or cognition.

The mentioned Theories are inside the target of Theoretical Cartography, according RAMIREZ, which has the aim to explain the Cartography as science, and identify its components and inter-relations, to define the meaning of the maps and its components and to develop tools for analytical study of geo-spatial data.

This paper aims a state of art study of Cognitive Theory, as a Cartographic method. This Theory, which was developed from Cognitive Psychology, involves logical mental operations, considering maps as a variable source of information, which depends directly on users characteristics, resulting greater attention in map design processes, when maps becomes to be instruments to acquisition of new knowledge on the represented reality.

Complementing this paper, the relationship between reader and map must be analyzed. Its necessary to understand the cartographic language, the graphical language of maps also, linking cartographic language and Graphical Semiology Theory, which is also called Signs General Theory.