Dec 102014
 

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Cover of Estelle H. Ries’ opuscule on a miscellany of “lesser arts.”

Estelle H. Ries. The Lovely Lesser Arts: Leather Making, Screens, Map Making, Silhouettes, and What To Do About Nudes (1948). Girard KS: Haldeman-Julius Publications (B-686).

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Ms. Ries here situates makers of maps among other lesser artists – leather toolers, silhouette cutters, screen decorators, and carvers of ivory. Ries concludes her work with a few comments on the dreaded nude:

What to do about nudes, if anything, is always more or less of a ticklish problem. No matter how 20th-century we are or wish to be, some of us have inherited enough from the Mauve Decade, or have been surrounded by the traditions of Victorianism to such an extent, that the very word, Nude, is often veiled in whispers even if the object itself is veiled in nothing more than the atmosphere.

As for maps and their makers, Ries has many thoughts:

The first matters to be charted were direction and distance and these are still essential to every map. If you hear of that better place you can keep going until you get there if you but travel in the right direction. (p. 12)

Having north at the top of the map, we are used to the shapes of countries in this position. It would be the same world if we turned it upside down and had the south at the top, but try it once and you will see how unfamiliar and confusing it looks so. Yet the world is so upside down in most particulars right now, that perhaps it would be more true to print the maps that way after all. (p. 12)

In the jungles of Bengal they have a custom of breaking a branch from the wayside, and when it wilts it is considered that a krosh has been traveled. They do not realize that this varies with the season the type of tree from which the branch is taken, the speed of the walker or his idea of wilting! (p. 13)

One long-established concern publishing maps is in touch with all foreign governments through a branch office in Washington which contacts all the embassies. They consider a man in their cartography department an apprentice for the first three or four years of service which will give you a clue to the difficulty and importance of this type of work. (p. 15).

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The full text of section III, “The Human Side of Map Making,” from The Lovely Lesser Arts is below. A PDF (13.3 mb) of the entire 30 page booklet is here.

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III. THE HUMAN SIDE OF MAP MAKING

Once upon a time the nations of the world knew little or nothing of one another: The hazards of travel in an uncharted world prevented people from going far afield. What lay beyond the horizon? Who dwelt there? These questions were answered by silence or by mythical imaginings. But necessity and curiosity joined hands and impelled discovery of these unknown places. Which way to a better land? How far to more fertile ground? These questions were answered by a map.

The first matters to be charted were direction and distance and these are still essential to every map. If you hear of that better place you can keep going until you get there if you but travel in the right direction.

To get this sense of direction you must start from somewhere. Today maps have the true north at the top. This was not always so. The religious movements of the Middle Ages developed special reverence for the East. Paradise itself was represented on the maps and was supposed to be in the Garden of Eden, in the East. But Paradise was Heaven, and Heaven was above, so the East was at the top of the map and there it remained until the compass came along and displaced Paradise by pointing north itself.

Having north at the top of the map, we are used to the shapes of countries in this position. It would be the same world if we turned it upside down and had the south at the top, but try it once and you will see how unfamiliar and confusing it looks so. Yet the world is so upside down in most particulars right now, that perhaps it would be more true to print the maps that way after all.

A map is not earth size, of course, so that distances must be represented to a scale. Otherwise your map is too vague to have much use. It is harder to do this than to get direction because a knowledge of mathematics is needed both to measure distance on the ground and still more to show it on a map. In some parts of India a unit of measurement, the krosh, is given as “two statutory miles, more or less.” In the jungles of Bengal they have a custom of breaking a branch from the wayside, and when it wilts it is considered that a krosh has been traveled. They do not realize that this varies with the season the type of tree from which the branch is taken, the speed of the walker or his idea of wilting! Obviously mapmaking could not advance far until some facts of mathematics and astronomy could be applied. The best early maps came from Egypt, Babylon, China and Greece where these abilities first flourished.

The absence of such knowledge in most of Europe during the middle ages led the monks who made the maps never to leave any blank space on a map. To do so was an open confession of ignorance. They filled up all vacant areas with elaborate decorations-sometimes of fantastic creatures, or of legendary tales. Through the 18th century maps were decorative rather than practical, truly works of art, and are even now collectors’ items of rich beauty. Perhaps as an alibi to conceal their lack of accurate data, the idea was allowed to get around that accurate observations would be of value to trade rivals or enemies.

Of course, there were always some serious geographers who tried to promote accuracy in maps. Ptolemy, a famous Egyptian astronomer of the 2nd century, was first to draw the equator upon a globe and measure off the lines of latitude and longitude. Such lines, he explained, would locate any place on the map better than any amount of description. He also pointed out that a flat sheet of papyrus or paper would not fit around a sphere and that flat maps would involve too much distortion to be accurate. For a long time he pondered, “How can I show a map of the globe on a flat surface without too much distortion?” And then he had an idea. He took a cone and fitted a piece of papyrus around it tightly. It went on without any bulges, and when he took it off, it could be flattened out. He placed the cone, which was hollow, over the globe as far as the equator and drew his lines upon it. Then he took another cone going from the South Pole to the equator, and so invented the conical projection for flat maps. Ptolemy’s contributions to map-making were of great importance, but during the centuries new discoveries were made which were not on his maps. Moreover they had some inaccuracies of their own due to the unreliability of his sources, although his scientific methods were correct.

Mercator, a Flemish mathematician in the 16th century recognized the troubles with the earlier maps and decided to make something that would combine their advantages and remove their faults. Where Ptolemy used a conical projection, Mercator devised one based on a cylinder, and this solved the problems he had set himself.

The difficulties of making a map increase when we try to show on a flat surface the variations in height such as hills or mountains, yet their importance is too great to overlook. Mountains are not only a distinguishing physical characteristic of a region, but they affect rainfall and climate; they are the sources of rivers; they influence the amount of timber or the agricultural conditions; they serve as political boundaries and in many other ways. At first glance it would seem that the best way to show these would be on an actual model. However, models are costly to produce and cumbersome to handle, as they cannot be rolled, bound, folded or otherwise carried around conveniently. Most important, however, there has to be a different scale used for horizontal and vertical distances, else a relief model of the globe without such a difference would show little more in the way of relief inequalities than the skin of an orange. For example, Mount Everest is only 1/2000 of the earth’s diameter. On an 18-inch globe, it is estimated, it would be represented by less than 1/100 of an inch. Thus the highest mountain in the world wouldn’t even show!

A map combines the qualities of a picture and a book. Elevations of mountains or depths in water are depicted by forms of shading. A town is indicated by a dot, a road or river by a line. Codes of color can be employed, and other conventions are customary. The mapmaker must exercise some choice in the matter of naming places. He has to decide whether to use an American form of a foreign town or its native name, or one recently changed as an expression of national self-determination. Koln or Cologne; Dublin or Baile Atha Cliath? Praha or Prague; Munchen or Munich? This grows even more complex if the alphabet used by the natives is not related to a European one. There seems to be quite an assortment of spellings for the names of places in Persia (itself called Iran), China, India and other oriental lands. Maps should, of course, be clear and uncrowded, and the mapmaker should decide at the outset which kinds of things he must emphasize.

Of course, since Mercator’s Atlas appeared in 1585, mapmaking has grown continuously more scientific and accurate. The modern era of discovery and exploration does not consist in the vague adventuring by land and by sea which in a large measure constituted discovery up to the time of Captain Cook-and in some parts of the world long after that time. Today’s cartographers have precision instruments and theoretical knowledge far beyond any then in use. Mapping by airplane, for instance, is one of the newest and most popular methods giving access to hitherto inaccessible places. Telegraph, cable, radio, weather bureau and countless similar services have simplified the work of mapmakers and at the same time have given them far greater responsibilities. There is so much less excuse for them to be other than strictly reliable.

The modern mapmaker is an expert and his results go to experts whereas the early seafarer was more of a rough and ready adventurer who took a long chance hoping for gain, and did not care too much if he lost. By the old methods and equipment much of the world was discovered by accident. Desire for trade and wealth, missionary zeal, piracy, or sheer adventurousness were the usual reasons for exploration. In those times an explorer would ask for a little money to find a land that one could see and profit by. Today explorers like Roy Chapman Andrews require a quarter of a million dollars to explore a portion of the Gobi desert for knowledge of a world buried millions of years ago; not for financial profit in any way but for study of rocks and skeletons to reveal the beginnings of life on earth. It has been pointed out that while Columbus spent only about $2,000 to discover America, Byrd needed over $1,000,000 to enter the Antarctic. He spent nearly $200,000 merely to make a 17-hour trip over the North Polar Sea by air. Few modern explorers are able to take a large scientific staff into the field under a cost of $100,000.

When explorers have mapped the surface of the earth, will the job of mapmaker be finished? By no means. The whole idea has expanded and will continue to do so, for map making means many things to many people. Alexander von Humboldt, for instance, was puzzled by the fact that London was farther north than New York and yet was warmer in winter, while other places in the same latitudes varied in temperature. He began to plot new lines on the map running through places having the same temperatures, just as each line of latitude runs through all places of like distance from the equator. The temperature lines ran zigzag all over the map. He called them isotherms, and today no student of geography can do without his isothermic map. He followed this up with many other queries about the climate, and from his extended travels in South America and elsewhere he remembered certain facts. The height above sea level counts in climate, he knew from some of his own exciting mountain climbs. Mountains affect the rainfall too, he recalled. In his marvelous book, “Cosmos,” the science of physical geography was born, and Humboldt showed us a new way to look at ourselves and our earth.

Following the work of Humboldt and others, Joseph Henry gave us the daily weather map with its high and low-pressure regions and other data. Again, four-fifths of the earth is under water and this is a great field for investigators. Years ago, Lieutenant Maury of the U.S. Navy devoted his life to describing and mapping the sea – its currents, winds, temperatures, depths and many other qualities. Through him, the father of oceanography, navigators can take advantage of the most favorable winds and currents and many other benefits. Other types of explorers, like William Beebe, map the land of the fish, the actual depth and bottom of the sea, while Auguste Piccard did the opposite and soared 10 miles into the stratosphere. John Milne investigated the inside of the earth-the causes of earthquakes, and improved the seismograph which gives warning of impending disasters of this kind. And so today we still live in an age of discovery, and the vague notions of far-off countries give way to the most precise records. Accurate measurements of distances, heights, weather conditions, geological conditions; productive regions of the earth-its oil, minerals, wheat and other economic resources; plant life, animal life, human distribution, wealth maps, health maps-all these open fields of interest, work and achievement.

A basic necessity for compiling up-to-date maps is the collection and analysis of geographic and economic data. Several hundred thousand maps, charts, geographical reports, statistical records, post office guides, survey and exploration reports, historical notes and handbooks from all parts of the world are available for intensive study and research carried on by cartographers. All this research, traveling, surveying, compiling and drawing are essential to the production of the modern map. And today changing conditions make other maps of vital importance. One long-established concern publishing maps is in touch with all foreign governments through a branch office in Washington which contacts all the embassies. They consider a man in their cartography department an apprentice for the first three or four years of service which will give you a clue to the difficulty and importance of this type of work. New or old, maps and mapmaking are powerfully fascinating, bringing the world of war and work, peace and plenty, romance and reality, before our very eyes in a glowing panorama of adventure.


Oct 012014
 

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Map of the World. Delineating the Contrasted Longitudinal and Latitudinal forms of the continents: the Isothermal Zodiac and Axis of Intensity Round the World; and the Line of Cosmopolitan Railway and it Longitudinal Feeders.

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Herein lie a half dozen very odd yet striking maps, published in William Gilpin’s Mission of the North American People (1873). Gilpin, a quaker from Philadelphia, moved west in the 1830s, joining John C. Frémont on his 1843 expedition. Eventually serving as governor of Colorado, Gilpin was a booster of the American West in general with a vision of boundless future prosperity. His belief in manifest destiny wedded to odd climatological theories, some of which are mapped out here, promoted his vision of the American West.

Maps are from Mission of the North American People, Geographical, Social, and Political. Illustrated by Six Charts Delineating the Physical Architecture and Thermal laws of all the Continents. By William Gilpin, Late Governor of Colorado. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co. 1873. Maps can be found at David Rumsey’s site as well as the full text of Gilpin’s book at the Internet Archive.

 


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Map of North America in which are delineated the Mountain System as a Unit, the Great Calcareous Plain and its Details, and the Continuous Encircling Maritime Selvage.


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Map of North America. Delineating the “Mountain System” and its details, The “Great Calcarious Plain” as a unit, and the continuous encircling “Maritime Selvage.”


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Map Illustrating the System of the Parcs, and the Domestic Relations of the “Great Plains,” the “North American Andes,” and the “Pacific Maritime Front.”


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Map of Colorado Territory, and Northern Portion of New Mexico Showing the System of Parcs.


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Thermal Map of North America. Delineating the Isothermal Zodiac, the Isothermal Axis of Identity, and its expansions up and down the “Plateau.”


Jul 302014
 

 

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The Atlas de Cuba by Gerardo Canet and Erwin Raisz, featured in a recent posting here, is accompanied by a large color map entitled Mapa de los Paisajes de Cuba (Map of the Landscapes of Cuba). The map is a hybrid of Raisz’s landform map style supplemented with diverse human landscape components. Canet and Raisz explain their methodology:

The accompanying map of Cuba is a new experiment in cartography. Color suggests land types: cultivated fields, pastures, mountains, swamps, valleys, etc. The symbols were selected after a series of flights over the Island and on analysis of numerous color photographs taken from the air It is expected that in this way the map will better reflect reality; more closely resembling on air view of the Island than the conventional maps we now have.

This approach is part of a tradition of natural or real color mapping combining terrain (in particular, shaded relief) with air imagery or map symbolization inspired by air imagery, an obvious outcome of aerial mapping in the early part of the 20th century. An article by Tom Patterson and Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso entitled Hal Shelton Revisited: Designing and Producing Natural-Color Maps with Satellite Land Cover Data (2004) delineates the author’s development of the Natural Earth data (shaded terrain + satellite land use data) in the context of earlier, related work by Hal Shelton, Eduard Imhof, Heinrich Berann, Richard Edes Harrison and Tibor Toth. It seems that Raisz was also an innovator in this realm of air-imagery inspired map design.

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See also, at this blog, Raisz’s History of American Cartography TimelinesMap Symbols: Landforms & Terrain, and Raisz’s currently available landform maps at www.raiszmaps.com.

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Mapa de los Paisajes de Cuba, 1949 (36.6mb)

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Map details:

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May 292014
 

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Fujimi jūsanshū yochi zenzu
(Map of the thirteen provinces from which Mt. Fuji is visible)
1843  |  Edo : Yamashiroya Sahei
Source

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Kaihō Kai no Kuni ezu
(Pocket map of Kai Province)
1842  |  Kōfu, Kai Province : Murataya Kōtarō
Source

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 Ōsaka yori Tōkai ni itaru kairo no zu
(Tōkaidō and the sea route from Ōsaka to Edo)
1855  |  Manuscript
Source

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Shiga kenka Shiga-gun Fujio-mura chinai aza Ōhira Kaigaya Maegaki jissokuzu
(Measured map of Ōhira Kaigaya Maegaki, in Fujio Village, Shiga County, Shiga Prefecture - Gunpowder Safety Map)
1870  |  Manuscript
Source

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University of British Columbia
Collection: Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era
Source & Description


May 132014
 

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Céline Boyer: Empreintes (from Céline Boyer)

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Denis Wood’s 2010 book Rethinking the Power of Maps includes a discussion of exhibits devoted to maps created by artists prior to 2010. A significant number of exhibits have opened since the book was published. Map Art Exhibitions, 2010-11 was posted in late 2012, and an update for 2012-13 is below.

Map Art Exhibitions, 2012-13

While we know there were more exhibitions than we cover here – so please note any we’ve overlooked in the comments – the last two years have marked a slackening of interest in map art as the genre is increasingly taken for granted. Map art is gradually seeping into art the way landscape painting did into the Western tradition in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, solidifying its position in the world of art as it loses its novelty.

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Zarina: Dividing Line (Paper Like Skin, Guggenheim)

One thing this means is that map art is beginning to show up in broader bodies of work – as in Zarina Hasmi’s (above) or Erik Parker’s (below) – and in exhibitions on other themes – as in three of shows we’ve included here.

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Eric Parker: Preoccupied (Too Mad to be Scared: Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum)

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Julia Penrose: from Mapping the Future: Where Are You Now?

Mapping The Future: Where Are You Now? Textile Forum South West, Gallery at The Brewhouse Theatre & Arts Centre, Taunton, England, 2012. Following a successful Textiles Forum South West (TFSW) conference, Maps define the future: where are you now? held at Somerset College in 2011, our exhibition here included the work of 35 textile artists reflecting on a variety of map themes. The artists utilized a range of experimental techniques, including delicate hand stitch, felt making, quilting, collage knitting, sculpture as well as digital media. Reviews of the show are posted at the exhibition site, along with descriptions of all the projects. There’s a catalogue too, as well as a DVD of the show.

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Joyce Kozloff: JEEZ (Joyce Kozloff)

Joyce Kozloff: JEEZThe Armory Show Modern, New York, 2012. About JEEZ, which hung at the main entrance of the 2012 Armory Show Modern in New York, Kozloff has said, “JEEZ is my election year piece, a 12’ x 12’ painting based on the Ebstorf map, a 13th century mappa mundi, which depicted Biblical stories and pagan myths within the world as it was then known, with Christ’s body as a symbolic and literal frame. I have inserted and rendered 125 images of Jesus from the history of art and worldwide popular culture – black, Latino, female, Asian; adults and babies; gay and straight; images from the movies and New Age hippies off the Internet – each true to its artistic ideal. As the archetypes and stereotypes accumulate, holy portraits are transformed into a rogue’s gallery of mismatched characters. Seen altogether, this proliferation wryly erodes their power.” Kozloff’s work was also included in a number of the other exhibitions noted here, in exhibitions at D. C. Moore in New York, and elsewhere.

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from Atlas Critique

Atlas critique, Parc Saint Léger, Contemporary Art Centre, Pougues-les-Eaux, France, 2012. The curators of this very interesting show wrote: “Although we are aware of the extent to which cartography as a discipline has been profoundly imbricated in the performative production of the narratives of modernity, in objective and positivist rationality, but also the history of colonialism and nationalistic constructions, for artists today, it has become a privileged site for the invention of counter-practices that open up new perspectives and participate in a deconstruction of hegemonies and post-colonial epistemologies as alternative tools for the production of knowledges, narratives and realities.” In demonstration of this they showed the work of, Francis Alÿs, Erick Beltrán, Berger & Berger, Border Art Workshop [a San Diego-based collaborative], Mark Boulos, Lewis Carroll / Henry Holiday, Chto delat? [a Russian art collective], Fernand Deligny, Michael Druks, Claire Fontaine, Internacional Errorista [an international art movement], Pedro Lasch, Vincent Meessen, Nástio Mosquito, Estefanía Peñafiel Loaiza, Lia Perjovschi, Radek Community+Dmitri Gutov [Moscow-based group], Philippe Rekacewicz, R.E.P. Group [a Ukrainian art collective], Allan Sekula & Noël Burch, Société Réaliste [a Parisian cooperative], Stalker [a walking group based in Rome], Endre Tót, David Wojnarowicz / James Wentzy / AIDS Community Television. This was an amazing exhibition, accompanied by conferences, performances, and films.

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Richard Long: A Line Made by Walking (from Contemporary Cartographies: Drawing Thought)

Contemporary Cartographies: Drawing Thought, CaixaForum, Barcelona, Spain, 2012. Curated by Helena Tatay, this important exhibition included more than 140 works by 77 artists, from the classics (Dalí, Debord, Duchamp) to the contemporary (Alÿs, Kentridge, Kuitca), with the goal of “inviting the visitor to question both the systems of representation that we use and the ideas that underpin them.” As the press release put it, “The central aim of this exhibition is, therefore, to explore the ways in which contemporary artists have used cartographic language to subvert traditional systems of representation, propose new formulas or suggest the very impossibility of representing a globalised, ever more chaotic world.”

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Joyce Kozloff: Targets (from The Map as Art, Kemper Museum)

The Map as Art, Kemper Museum. St. Louis, Missouri, 2013. Inspired by Katharine Harmon’s best-selling book, The Map as Art, this exhibition presented work that explored the issue of mapping – whether conceptually or quite literally – while examining systems of personal gesture involved in large-scale works. The exhibition featured more than 30 works by seven artists: Ingrid Calame, Nathan Carter, Tiffany Chung, Joyce Kozloff, Lordy Rodriguez, Robert Walden, and Heidi Whitman, several of whom made presentations in the extensive programming that accompanied the show. It was co-curated by Kemper Museum curator Barbara O’Brien and Katharine Harmon. There was an illustrated gallery card. Sept 14, 2012-April 21, 2013.

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David Reimondo: Patch World Inverso (from MAPPAMUNDI, art et cartography

MAPPAMUNDI, art et cartographie, Hôtel des Arts, Centre d’art du Conseil général du Var, Toulon, 2013. Less pretentious than some shows, but more exciting, MAPPAMUNDI brought together 58 works by 26 artists, a number of them represented in Atlas critique (for example, Stalker) and/or Contemporary Cartographies: Drawing Thought (for example, Kuitca) in a show organized by Guillaume Monsaingeon around three themes: the body, combat, and the tale. Monsaingeon also wrote the fully-illustrated, 190-page catalogue, MAPPAMUNDI, art et cartographie, which opens with a long history of maps and map art. The exhibition included Céline Boyer’s project Empreintes, a collection of photographs of hands, against black backgrounds, on which maps of their places of origin (Senegal, Iran, Spain, and so on) have been superimposed. A 100-page book – all of which fold out – documents Empreintes. Boyer’s project is connected to those in the exhibition of Qin Ga and Kuitca, though indeed this show was rich in resonances.

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Expanded Map (from Expanded Map)

Expanded Map, RM Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand, 2013. Curated by Ruth Watson and James Wylie, who both co-authored the catalogue and have pieces in the show, Expanded Map is an artists show in an artists space. With the exception of Gigi Scaria, Lize Mogel, and Clare Noonan all the artists are locals: Auckland has a rich map art scene! The show was divided into two parts, both of them covered in the color catalogue.

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 Mark Schatz: Universe Hive (From ArtHopper.com)

Universe, The Sculpture Center, Cleveland, Ohio, 2013. Mark Schatz mapped the world in this sprawling, double-sided landscape model built with ideas from architects, planners, hobbyists, and self-taught artists,. The faceted map could be folded up to make a Buckminster Fuller-inspired cuboctohedron; and it drew attention to individual perceptions of ones place, ones residence or “home,” and how it’s all a multifaceted, living, growing experience.

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Samuel Rowlett, Still From “Landscape Painting in the Expanded Field” (from Artfcity.com)

Artists’ Walks: The Persistence of Peripateticism, Dorsky Gallery, New York, 2013. Curated by Earl Miller, this is an example of a show tangential to the world of map art, but in an essential way, for walking, after all was for most of human history how we came to know the world. A lot of peripatetic art still uses maps to document the walks. Here this was the case for the work of Danica Phelps, Gwen MacGregor, and Sandra Rechico. The latter two also organized a piece, “Map It Out (New York),” in which they invited people to map the travels they’d made during the day, and then they assembled the collected drawings into a psychogeographic portrait of New York that hung alongside works by Richard Long, Hamish Fulton, and others. Neat show.

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Joseph Kosuth: From Memory, Draw a Map of the United States (from Huffington Post)

From Memory: Draw a Map of the United States, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, 2013. This show is the first presentation of a project conceived and produced in 1971-1972 by Hisachika Takahashi. Takahashi, a Japanese artist living in New York, asked twenty-two fellow artists to each draw or paint a map of the United States entirely from memory on the handmade Japanese paper he provided: Arakawa, Jed Bark, Mel Bochner, Juan Downey, Alex Hay, Jasper Johns, Joseph Kosuth, Jeffrey Lew, Jane Logemann, Brice Marden, Gordon Matta-Clark, Richard Nonas, Robert Petersen, Robert Rauschenberg, Dorothea Rockburne, James Rosenquist, Keith Sonnier, Hisachika Takahashi, Cy Twombly, Susan Weil, Lawrence Weiner, Robert Whitman and Don Wyman. It’s a valuable document of the scene and of the map ferment beginning to grip the art world.

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Detail from Nalini Malani and Iftikhar Dadi: Bloodlines (from IndiWeek)

Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space, Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 2013-14. This is another show at once tangential to map art and yet concerned with an essential map element: lines of control. The lines of control in this case are mostly borders through contested areas (India/Pakistan, Israel/Palestine, Mexico/US, and so on). Green Cardamom brought together more than thirty contemporary artists (from Francis Alÿs to Muhammad Zeeshan) and a host of other contributors (including Iftikhar Dadi and Irit Rogoff) to mount a ceaselessly stimulating exhibition, first in 2012 at Cornell and then in 2013-14 at Duke. It spawned a 240-page full-color catalogue. A great stimulating show and a terrific catalogue!

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Maya Lin: Blue Lake Pass (from IndiWeek)

Surveying the Terrain, Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh, 2013-14. While Lines of Control was up at Duke in Durham, across the Triangle in Raleigh, CAM was showing Surveying the Terrain, another show tangential to map art, yet equally concerned with an essential subject; or, as the gallery brochure put it, “Surveying the Terrain explores contemporary artworks that map our terrain.” Curated by Dan Solomon, it featured ten artists including Alfredo Jaar, Laura Kurgan, Maya Lin, and Trevor Paglen. Beautiful work!

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MAPnificent image

(from Bronx River Art)

MAPnificent! Artists Use Maps, Bronx River Art Center, New York, 2013-14. Curated by Yulia Tikhonova, this show’s 18 artists – among whom were Paula Scher and Mannahatta – approached the map from every direction. This may have been the year’s most classic map art show, a fading form.

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Roosmarijn Pallandt

Roosmarijn Pallandt (from Roosmarijnpallandt.com)

Unmapping the World, EXD’13 / Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical, Palácio dos Condes da Calheta, Lisbon, Portugal, 2013. Part of Experimental International Design Biennial 2013, and curated by Annelids de Vet (of the Subjective Atlas of … fame) and Nuno Coelho, the exhibit was “an exploration into the field of reactive map making practices. It aims to counterpoise the apparent neutrality of professional cartography through contemporary engaged mapping projects. In this exhibition, ways of mapping are used to resist the authority of state, to question ruling power structures and to expose the propensity of maps to simplify our world. The act of uncapping is presented as a poetic form of resistance.” And so much more!

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Across the Wall: Israeli Settlement Bus Routes: Ahmad Barclay & Polypod (from Visualizing Palestine)

The Cartography of the Unseen, The Research Gallery, Holon Institute of Technology, Holon, Israel, 2013. This exhibition dealt with “the political reading of the overt and covert mechanisms embedded in the act of cartography, by exposing the ideological aspects, as well as the solicitation to action performed through mapping. The exhibition analyses the ways in which the design of maps conditions the very interpretation of them, and examines how the act of mapping affects the reorganization of the mapped territory.” Thirteen projects from as many territories were presented, including work from both Israel and Palestine. Radical presentation!

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Apr 272014
 

The World Is Round! (1935)

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Air Mapping (1935)

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Moon Mapping (1953)

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Map to the Coronation (1937)

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Mainly Maps (1938)

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Mapping It Out! (1940)

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Map Depot In Desert (1943)

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Map Making By Women’s Voluntary Service – Quite So! (1943)

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New Maps for New Worlds (1945)

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Mobile Map Truck (Step On It!) (1944)

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Plastic Maps (1947)

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Map Making (1952)

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Interpol See Scotland Yard (Pre-Computer GIS) (1958)

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Map Making (1961)

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School Playground Map (1961)

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Map Survey (1965)

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Aerial Photography Aids Map Makers – Hungary (1965)


Sep 112013
 

Schmid_multivariate_suicide

In the field of sociology, perhaps one of the most useful devices for the graphic presentation of facts is the cartogram or statistical map. Recently there has been an increasing emphasis on the ecological and statistical phases of social analysis. This development has given the map much greater significance and utility in the methodology of sociology.

The chief value of the spot-map, though not highly refined or developed at present, seems to be that of an instrument of social discovery and analysis. Significant relations and correspondence of variables, which might otherwise be overlooked, are brought into graphic relief by the spotmap.

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Notwithstanding that the spot-map is characteristically quite elementary, if not, as some critics say, superficial, yet it can be delineated so that it shows several variables at once with specificity, accuracy, and clarity.

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Although the spot-map has its limitations, it is justifiable to say that there is no other way in which the relation between so many facts as are contained in the above maps can be shown so clearly and concisely.

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It may be argued that a large number of symbols tends to obscure rather than to elucidate the significance of the data, and at the same time necessitating an unduly large amount of time and effort. This point of view may, in some instances, be justified, but if the number of symbols is reasonably large, and if they are simple in form and logically and visually arranged, this argument becomes untenable.

Calvin F. Schmid
“Notes on Two Multiple-Variable Spot Maps”
Social Forces, Vol. 6, No. 3. (Mar., 1928), pp. 378-382.

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Aug 092013
 

Schulten_Chinatown

Detail from a rare 1885 map showing vice in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Vice includes gambling (dark orange), Chinese prostitution (green), opium houses (yellow), Joss Houses (red) and White prostitution (blue). The map, from the Rumsey Map Collection, is an early example of detailed urban social mapping, in this case motivated by strong anti-Chinese sentiment. Click on the map (above) for more details from Historian Susan Schulten’s blog Mapping the Nation.

Schulten’s blog and website for her terrific book Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America contain a wealth of maps and graphics. The book itself looks at the pivotal 19th century – when mapping expanded to include a diversity of human, social, cultural, political and environmental phenomena.

Selected details of maps from the blog are below: click on the title or image to see the entire map.

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Emma Willard, “Introductory” Map of American History (1828)

“This map opened one of the first historical atlases of America, created by the noted educator Emma Willard. Note that she marked not just the location of tribes, but their migration over time.”

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Emma Willard, “First” Map of American History (1828)

“Willard’s second map in the atlas marked the earliest voyages to America, and took pains to represent change over time. Note the inclusion of failed voyages and settlements.”

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Diagram of the History of Political Parties in the United States (to 1880) (1880)

“Here is one of the many attempts to represent American history in graphic terms that flourished in the wake of the nation’s centennial, and which was updated in 1894.”

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Transportation and Rates of Travel (1932)

“Here Charles Paullin represented advances in transportation technology in geographic terms in order to depict the qualitative changes over the course of American history.”

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Course of Cholera in Boston in 1849 (1849)

“This is one of many examples of a map designed for etiological purposes, in this case to locate the source of the city’s 1849 cholera epidemic.”

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Sanitary Map of the City of New Orleans (1855)

“Barton compiled this complex map to locate the origin of the yellow fever outbreak of 1853, even noting the arrival of ships in the city port.”

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Map of the Cotton Regions of North America (1862)

“Mallet designed this complex map to guide the British as they developed cotton in India, drawing on existing geological and environmental maps from the era.”

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Map Showing the Distribution of the Slave Population of the Southern States (1861)

“One of the first American attempts to translate the census into cartographic form, and a favorite of President Lincoln during the Civil War.”

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Map of Bison Distribution Over Time (1876)

“This map depicts the shrinking bison population, highlighting the effects of expansion at the nation’s centennial. It became the model for William Temple Hornaday’s well-known map of 1887.”

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Geological Map of the United States (1872)

“This stunning map owed much to its antebellum maps of geology as well as the fine chromolithography of Julius Bien.”

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9780226103969

Susan Schulten
Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America
University of Chicago Press, 2012

Part One: Mapping the Past

Chapter 1: The Graphic Foundations of American History
Chapter 2: Capturing the Past through Maps

Part Two: Mapping the Present

Chapter 3: Disease, Expansion, and the Rise of Environmental Mapping
Chapter 4: Slavery and the Origin of Statistical Cartography
Chapter 5: The Cartographic Consolidation of America


Jul 032013
 

spy_maps_close

Back in 2008 the word cartocacoethes was first used on this blog to describe “a mania, uncontrollable urge, compulsion or itch to see maps everywhere.”

Counter cartocacoethes can be applied in the world of espionage allowing spies to sneak intelligence out of hostile territories – making maps that don’t look like maps.

Stained-glass windows, butterfiles, leaves, moth heads…

spy_maps

In making the drawings of fortified positions after ascertaining their plans, it was the work of the spy so to disguise them that their true character would not be recognized in the event of his capture by military authorities in the country where he was operating.

The plans of a fortification were first drawn in a regular manner and then disguised. In one case this was done by sketching ostensibly a stained-glass window. To the casual observer the drawing would bear no indication of its importance, but to the spy it was a carefully executed map of a military stronghold.

In another case the spy chose an ivy leaf as a pattern, the veins being drawn to represent the outline of the fortified position; the shading marking the ground sheltered from fire, and heavy spots, resembling worm-eaten holes, the positions of the large guns.

The entire article, reproduced in Popular Mechanics (July 1915) from an article in The Sketch (February 24, 1915):

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