It’s a video that went undiscovered on Vimeo for years, and a project that’s been evolving for decades… with no clear end in sight. Jerry Gretzinger has an obsession unlike anyone else we’ve heard of: he’s spent almost his entire adult years creating a single never-ending map using hand painted pages and a special deck of cards to determine the outcome for his imaginary populous. It’s an all encompassing personal project that greatly predates modern games like SimCity and Minecraft, and Jerry’s brilliant (some would say obsessed) mind is at the controls.
The recently discovered video, featured here, walks us through Jerry’s highly detailed, open-edged painting that now covers 2000 square feet. The immense project began decades ago when he drew the overhead plan for a city on a single A4 sheet of paper – tiny buildings drawn with black pen. What happened when he reached the edge of the paper would influence the rest of his life – that edge looked like it could connect to other cities, growing into a project with a life of its own.
“My mother called me a ‘musser’ because I liked to mix things together,” he tells Uppercase Magazine. “I once mixed ammonia and Clorox and then took a whiff. I invented games and forced my younger brother to play them, and then got pissed off when he won.”
Now Jerry uses a specially crafted deck of cards to determine the outcome of his world, with fictitious cities like “Plaeides,” “Wybourne” and the largest, “Ukrainia.” Each day he draws cards to see how a page of his gigantic map will be modified, with perhaps the most unusual card being the “void.” With this card a blank spot is put on the map, wiping out previous details completely and opening up a world of new possibility. Watch the inspiring and original short below, then head to jerrysmap.blogspot.com.au to learn more about this wildly original project.
An example of one panel from Jerry’s map:
The custom deck of cards used to determine the outcome of Jerry’s daily painting: