Archive for the ‘cartography’ Category
(via NASA.gov, 1/25/2012) “A ‘Blue Marble’ image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA’s most recently launched Earth-observing satellite – Suomi NPP. This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth’s surface taken on January 4, 2012. The NPP satellite was renamed ‘Suomi NPP’ on January 24, 2012 to honor the late Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin.
Suomi NPP is NASA’s next Earth-observing research satellite. It is the first of a new generation of satellites that will observe many facets of our changing Earth. Suomi NPP is carrying five instruments on board. The biggest and most important instrument is The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite or VIIRS.”
Were you inspired by our Cartography issue? Check out Emotional Cartography, a free collection of essays focused on visualizing biometric data and emotional experiences using technology. Full of essays by artists, psychogeographers, futurologists and neuroscientists, including Raqs Media Collective and Sophie Hope, this PDF is the perfect little holiday present for your brain…check it out!
The themes explored in visual artist Anna Fine Foer’s work are diverse and ambitious, and span the spectrum from religion and politics, to ecology and social issues. But while the conversation in each piece varies, they all share a common visual language in that they’re carefully constructed, layer upon layer, with maps.
The artist first discovered the technique in an abstract painting class, where instead of paint, she decided on maps as her medium. Her choice of materials was purposeful on a number of levels, as a means to multiple ends. Practically speaking, the visual characteristics lent themselves for use in a variety of subject matters: the color and pattern could represent land, architecture, sky, water. The texture could create the effect of marble on a building. But conceptually, it opened many doors for the artist as well.
As Fine Foer understands it, “A map is an abstraction that we accept as standing for a place.” In speaking with GLIMPSE, she recalled a plane trip to Los Angeles during which she compared an airline-provided map with the terrain below, and found the difference between the two striking. It was a poignant moment in her exploration of maps as an abstraction of place, which could then be manipulated further to construct collaged abstractions of landscape.
As the artist’s map abstractions date back to 1979, she’s witnessed a technological evolution that fundamentally shifts the way people understand and relate to cartography. And as is the case for many artists, it’s also offered new methods by which she’s able to physically construct her work — methods she embraces, but only to a degree. Reflecting on her workflow, she explains, “It’s important to me that it’s still very constructed [by hand], that the craftsmanship is still there. I can appropriate and manipulate [the maps] in Photoshop, but that’s as far as I want to go.” This desire for tangibility directly relates to the artist’s stance on cartography in the face of changing technologies in the field; she doesn’t use a GIS device for travelling, and worries about the fate of the physical map. But on the other hand, the artist admits that technology has undoubtedly made it easier to find materials, “beautiful, historic maps,” by searching for them online.
When it comes to the raw materials, whether their origins are an historic atlas or the web, the artist is in no short supply, and we at GLIMPSE intend to sit back and watch the collection grow.
Excerpt of Anna Fine Foer’s Artist Statement:
My artwork is map collage that offers the viewer a combination of imaginary landscapes with mystical, scientific and ecological themes. The visual description of a three-dimensional world on a flat plane is conjoined with the depiction of the metaphysical.
Maps that I incorporate into collages may be part of the regional, geographic, geological or religious narratives; boundaries may have been altered in hopes of furthering certain ends. Usually there is more than one story a map can convey.
My work also has more than one story to tell. I may be trying to both describe the curve of the earth on a flat piece of paper and using maps to blur the boundaries between the natural and the manufactured/technological world, representing simultaneously land, sky, water and architecture.
Be sure to chart your course over to Anna Fine Foer’s website, here. And while on your way, why not check out GLIPMSE‘s latest issue on Cartography, where you’ll find more musings on, and celebrations of, maps.
Armelle Caron takes maps apart and puts them back together again–in a different order. Caron’s diptychs read like the “before” and “after” of a messy desk, at first navigable only by the familiar owner, and then, once organized, understood easily by all. She plays with comprehension and incomprehension, order and disorder, for just as she robs city blocks of their initial meaning, she gifts each shape with new meaning, with a place among the ranks, ordered by size, stacked in style.
“The city is hung out to dry by its smallest constituent parts. The cartographic compact – maps, however imperfect and partial on paper, are reliable real-world guides – is nullified. The city is un-mapped. Is it therefore also de-coded? The former term implies a loss of information: the city is disassembled, put in storage. The latter suggests a revelation of hidden knowledge: the fragments are pieces of an urban puzzle.”
With the current issue of GLIMPSE, we bring you a highlight of the American Antiquarian Society’s online exhibition, “Beauty, Virtue & Vice: Images of Women in Nineteenth-Century American Prints.” The exhibit’s curator reflects on the work, saying that, “although prints are often works of imagination . . . they still have much to tell us about the time and place in which they were created.” Georgia Barnhill of the AAS finds one print particularly telling, and explains why in “Cartography.”
In “Open Country of Woman’s Heart,” the American publisher D. W. Kellogg & Company capitalized on the convergence of technology, literary trends, and the spirit of exploration (not to mention a healthy dose of 19th century chauvinism) in the decades leading up to the Civil War. The result is a road map of a woman’s emotional core, where her “Love of Dress” dwarfs her “Good Sense,” and beyond the bounds of her heart lies only “Oblivion.”
Huffington Post readers took the print as an opportunity to envision their own interior (21st-century) landscapes. How about it, GLIMPSE readers? How do your internal maps compare?
The Cartography of Cultural Tension: Boston Public Library exhibit, “Torn in Two,” casts new look at the Civil War
It’s surprising to think that cultural tension can be mapped: that economic differences and opposing visions for the future can be detected on a flat piece of paper. Yet that is precisely what the Boston Public Library’s exhibition Torn in Two: The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War demonstrates. Showcasing maps from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, the exhibit ion examines the relationship between conflict and geography during the American Civil War.
The first of the exhibition’s three sections, “Rising Tensions,” interprets the geographic and demographic differences that contributed to the first shots at Fort Sumner in 1861. Maps depicting the U.S. in the 1850s reveal the incongruous settlement patterns that belie the cultural incompatibility between the North and South. The dense conglomeration of cities, roads, and railways in the North is jarringly different from the spacious South, whose agricultural economy depended more upon the Mississippi River than on trains. Indeed, the pre-war maps of the South have a feudal quality, as plots of land are labeled and color-coded according to family ownership rather than administrative township. The section also showcases an interesting map charting the concentration of slave populations by township in the South. Apparently, Abraham Lincoln also found it fascinating, and used it to link emancipation policies with military operations.
With maps of the Western territories from the 1850s, the exhibition makes us consider what was at stake for Americans in the years before the Civil War. The country was undoubtedly expanding after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 allowed settlers to decide on slavery’s legality by popular vote. Whose lifestyle would prevail in the new territories? Which region’s economic and moral values would dominate as the United States fulfilled its manifest destiny? One map of “the territories whose fate has yet to be decided,” illustrates the geographic and political scale of these questions. The North in blue, the South in red, the West in neutral white, one wonders what color will ultimately dye the vast, virgin West.
The second section, “Nation in Conflict” addresses how cartography functioned during the war, both in terms of military tactics and popular engagement. Notably, most maps displayed in this section were published in the North. While the Boston exhibit is perhaps biased towards Bostonian maps (Boston and New York were also major publishing hubs), it’s true that in the 1860s, maps of Dixie were in high demand. The North, on the offensive, was at a tactical disadvantage. Neither politicians nor the general public knew much about Southern geography, and were thus hungry for more information. The exhibition asserts that the Civil War (not Vietnam!) was the first “Living Room War”, for even in an era predating living rooms, the media allowed the public to stay abreast of the action. Indeed, newspapers published over 2,000 maps and diagrams throughout the course of the war, more than they’d ever published before. The increased interest and political urgency led to great improvements in cartography during the Civil War.
The final section of the exhibition examines how memory is recorded in maps. Focusing on the decisive battle of Gettysburg, we are asked how our “common visual experience” arose from incongruous recollections of the conflict. We learn how technological advances, the advent of photography, and the federal government’s increasing power influenced cartography, and finally, we consider how slave narratives have helped modern historians map the Underground Railroad.
With its wealth of documents and textual guides, the Torn in Two exhibition is valuable for cartography and history enthusiasts alike. In fact, it’s valuable for anyone who has ever considered what unifies the United States, or who has ever questioned the permanence and authority of the seemingly static map. Can a map unite or divide a nation? Can it record the hopes and fears of a people? Can it mandate our collective memory? If you want to jog your brain down the roads these questions lead to, through the tangles of war, race, and nationalism, the exhibition continues at the Boston Public Library through 2011. But beware: these roads, and these answers, are as yet uncharted territory. -by Meghan O’Reilly
Torn in Two: The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War
The Boston Public Library
Changing Exhibits Room
May – December 2011
Monday – Thursday: 9am-9pm; Friday & Saturday: 9am-5pm;
700 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116
Most of us know our way around the town or city or suburb where we live. We drive down the same streets, go to the same grocery store, pass the same billboards day after day. An area that was once overwhelming and unfamiliar quickly becomes manageable—we find ourselves able to navigate a new area through repetition, memory, and the ability to create recognizable landmarks. We don’t often question or appreciate this simply because, well, it’s just so natural. Taking the same old route to work everyday becomes mundane and predictable. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if every time you put the keys into the ignition you were scared to death you’d get lost? Places you’ve been to hundreds of times before can seem like new and uncharted territory. This life, this perpetual state of Where am I? is a reality for individuals who have what’s called Developmental Topographical Disorientation (DTD), and it’s explored spectacularly through Radiolab’s ‘Lost and Found’ episode. What exactly is DTD? It’s caused by an underdeveloped hippocampus, an area of the brain crucial to spatial orientation and the creation of cognitive maps. Unlike people who have difficulty figuring out their surroundings due to an external source like a head injury, those with DTD are born with an inability to cognitively map their surroundings.
The Radiolab episode chronicles the life of Sharon Roseman, a woman who lived the first 30 years of her life scared and confused by her constant disorientation, unsure of what exactly was ‘wrong’ with her. What makes us at GLIMPSE especially interested in this story is the man who diagnosed Roseman with DTD, Dr. Giuseppe Iaria. Iaria is an Assistant Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Calgary and was interviewed for our upcoming Cartography issue. In the interview he speaks about the science behind our cognitive maps (or lack thereof for some)—how we put them together, how we use them, and why the little machine with the soothing voice telling us ‘in .5 miles, turn right’ might be more detrimental to our internal mapping system than we’d like to believe.
If you found yourself interested in the work of Dr. Iaria, be sure to check out our forthcoming Cartography issue.
- Allison Nonko
As the release for GLIMPSE‘s new Cartography issue nears, we wanted to share another source for a creative and unique expression of maps. Alexander Chen is a Brooklyn-based artist and musician who created Conductor, a visual and musical representation of the New York City subway map that transforms the map into a stringed instrument hosted on the website MTA.ME. At MTA.ME, colored subway lines creep across a screen and as they intersect with one another, the lines bend and snap, producing sharp, clear notes. The effect is eery and beautiful. As more and more lines are added to the screen and the music becomes slightly louder and faster-paced, it becomes easy to forget what it is exactly you’re looking at. You get lost in the in the simple lines and quiet notes until you realize: this is the subway.
All the movement is real, a path each train takes hundreds of times a day, with hundreds of people crammed inside each one, and it’s louder and more confusing, more overwhelming. Conductors mumble the upcoming stop while people stand tightly grasping metal poles in front of them, or sit with their legs crossed and hands folded, all avoiding eye contact with one another. And for the most part it’s a draining experience. But right now, we’re not on any of those trains. We’re just watching and listening to Chen’s creation, mesmerized by the labyrinth of a map we can’t appreciate when we’re in it.