Zones of Invention - Patterns of Patents

Over the last 20 years, sculptor and media artist Ingo Günther has mapped social, scientific, political, and economic data on globes as navigational guides in a globalized world. The Worldprocessor #286 globe featured here plots the total number of patents granted worldwide, beginning with nearly 50,000 in 1883, reaching 650,000 in 1993 (near the North Pole), and rapidly approaching 1 million in 2002 (in the southern hemisphere). Geographic regions where countries offer environments conducive to fostering innovation are represented by topology. Additionally, nations where residents are granted an average of 500 or more U.S. patents per year are called out in red by their respective averages in the years after 2000. View the complete set of more than 300 Worldprocessor globes at

Günther, Ingo. 2005. WorldProcessor. Chiayi Art Festival on the Tropic of Cancer. Ji-Tung Art Printing.

Günther, Ingo. 2006. WorldProcessor: Zones of Invention—Patterns of Patents. Courtesy of Ingo Günther. In “2nd Iteration (2006): The Power of Reference Systems,” Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Deborah MacPherson.

contributed by Katy Börner