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The Map Room - A Weblog about Maps
California as an Island and Worlds That Never Were, an exhibition of maps from the Roy V. Boswell Collection for the History of Cartography at California State University at Fullerton. Runs from 22 January to 29 March at CSU Fullerton’s Pollak Library. News release. [WMS]
Mapping Texas: From Frontier to the Lone Star State features maps spanning more than 400 years of Texas history, mostly from the Texas General Land Office, as well as two museums and private collectors. Runs from 27 January to 8 October at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. News release. [WMS]
Seymour Schwartz is a familiar figure in the map world. A professor of surgery by day, he’s built a reputation as a map collector (and donor), historian and author (his books include The Mismapping of America and Putting “America” on the Map). On Thursday he’ll be appearing at the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery, as one of the speakers in their Hidden Passions series. University of Rochester news release. [WMS]
A recent psychology paper challenges the notion that men are better than women at directions. When the same test was presented as a measure of spatial ability that women typically did worse at, women did worse than men. But when the same test was presented as a measure of empathy, women did just as well as men. Social conditioning, in other words, may be at play here. Good magazine. [MAPS-L]
I am not one of those people who is always getting themselves lost. In fact the idea of lost is a more or less academic concept to me: I have a rock-solid sense of direction. I suspect that the same is true for most of the map aficionados who read this website. But maybe you are someone who gets lost very easily, or you at least know someone who is. For such people, the New York Times’s Christopher Mele has a set of practical tips to improve your sense of direction, most of which are predicated on grounding yourself, observing your surroundings and relying not so much on the technology. [MAPS-L]
Every so often Randall Monroe puts up a map-related xkcd cartoon, and each time I dutifully post about it. This morning’s is called “Bad Map Projection: Liquid Resize.” Or: when Photoshop algorithms attack.
An exhibition of Sohei Nishino’s work is taking place right now at SFMOMA, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In his Diorama Map series, Nishino assembles patchwork-quilt aerial views of cities from thousands of his photographs; each city is thrown deep into its own uncanny valley. Here’s an Atlas Obscura profile from last November. New Work: Sohei Nishino runs until 26 February. More at SF Weekly. [WMS]
Writing for the Portland Press-Herald, Colin Woodard compares the 2016 presidential election results to the eleven regional cultures he sets out in his 2011 book, American Nations. “The bottom line: the 2016 presidential election results exhibited the same regional patterning we’ve seen in virtually all competitive contests in our history, including those in 2008 and 2012. But by running on an unconventional platform, Donald Trump was able to erode his rival’s margins in certain nations.” He did better enough in rural Yankeedom and the Midlands to deny Clinton the victory in states she could not afford to lose. With plenty of maps to show the swing from the 2008 and 2012 votes. [Cartophilia]
Previously: Electoral Map What-Ifs.
An exhibition opening this week at the Jane Lombard Gallery in Manhattan features, among others, the work of Christine Gedeon, an artist who “uses a sewing machine, fabric and paint on raw canvas to create improvisational stitched ‘plots’ that toe the line between abstraction and landscape. Examining issues of the urban environment, cartography, and urban planning, Gedeon investigates how humans interact with each other and our built environment to form relationships, narratives, and identities.” Examples of Gedeon’s stitched work can be found at her website. [The Map as Art]
Official highway maps—paper highway maps—are still a thing: the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot has a profile of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s sole cartographer, Dwayne Altice, who’s responsible for the biennial updates to that state’s official transportation map. Includes some interesting behind-the-scenes detail about how the map is made—and how it used to be made (layers and layers of film). [WMS]
Last November art historian James Welu gave a talk at the Leventhal Map Center about Jan Vermeer’s use of maps in his paintings. The talk is now available on YouTube. I found it fascinating that Vermeer represented actual maps in his paintings — many of which are now very scarce or available only fragmentarily. [Leventhal Map Center]
The U.S. military uses a huge floor map of Washington, D.C. to plan for presidential inaugurations, as the Tech Insider video above shows. According to this, it’s used by the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, a joint-service organization that provides military ceremonial support. (See this U.S. Army article from 2012 about the 2013 inauguration, and this 2008 Pruned blog post about the 2009 inauguration.) [Tim Wallace]
Günter Schilder’s Early Dutch Maritime Cartography: The North Holland School of Cartography (c. 1580-c. 1620) comes out this month from Brill; its book launch takes place in Amsterdam on 27 January. [Tony Campbell]
Also scheduled for publication later this month: Mapping the Holy Land: The Origins of Cartography in Palestine by Bruno Schelhaas, Jutta Faehndrich and Halim Goren (I. B. Tauris).
Geographical magazine has reviews of two books I’ve mentioned here. Paul Presley reviews Treasures of the Map Room, which I reviewed here last month; and Laura Cole reviews Cheshire and Uberti’s Where the Animals Go, which I told you about last November.
The Map Books of 2017 page is now live; I’ll be adding books scheduled to be published during the year as I find out about them.
Caitlin at Geo Lounge on pantographs: “Before the use of computers to replicate and manipulate maps, a pantograph was one of the ways used to either reduce or enlarge the size of a map while reproducing an accurate copy of the original map.” I did not know about pantographs—they seem to have been widely used in drawing and diagramming. Maps too, it would seem.
I’ve known about escape maps—maps printed on silk to help prisoners of war escape Germany during the Second World War—for a while now, and have blogged about them before, but this Atlas Obscura piece on them taught me a few things I didn’t know, and is a fascinating read besides.
See also this article from the British Library, from last October. And in case you missed it, a book on the subject, Barbara Bond’s Great Escapes: The Story of MI9’s Second World War Escape and Evasion Maps (Times Books), came out last year.
Speaking of National Geographic. If the magazine is known for its cartography and its photography, one should not forget the illustrations, charts and infographics that accompany many of the articles and appear on the back of every folded map that comes several times a year with a magazine subscription. Now there’s a book of them: National Geographic Infographics. Edited by Julius Wiedemann and published by Taschen, the book “gather[s] the magazine’s best infographics of the past 128 years.” More at Atlas Obscura and Wired.
Are we already at the end of the year, and it’s time for the year-in-review writeups? It is? Man. I won’t be doing one of those, but at the National Geographic map blog, All Over the Map, Greg Miller has done so at All Over the Map, the map blog he and Betsy Mason write for National Geographic. Includes a gallery of the year’s best maps—some of which, I’m ashamed to say, I missed when they came out.
Map to Globe is an online tool that allows you to transfer a flat map onto a globe. Adam Whitehead has been trying it out with fantasy maps. Some work better than others. Westeros is not one of them, “because the maps of the North and the lands beyond the Wall need to be adjusted so they work on a globe.” Think of it as sort of a Mercator problem in reverse: imagining a flat map rather than a round world: the flat map’s lack of distortion is the issue.
As discussed before, in creating the maps of Westeros and Essos for A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin has not really taken projection into account at all. On his maps of Westeros, the Wall is 300 miles long but the distance between Deepwood Motte and Winterfell (hundreds of miles to the south) is also said to be 300 miles long and the south coast of Westeros—3,000 miles south of the Wall!—is said to be 1,200 miles long. These are all in perfect scale to one another, which is not really possible when you look at the maps as a representation of what the planet actually looks like.
Trying to circle the square, so to speak, leads to complications, as Whitehead points out on his Atlas of Ice and Fire blog.
Of course, if your fantasy world is flat instead of round, you don’t have this problem.
Neil Freeman’s Random States of America creates election maps from an alternate reality. They apply real-world election results to randomly generated state boundaries, which can yield radically different results than what actually happened.
Taking things one step further, Josh Wallaert of Places asked Freeman “to calculate who would win the 2016 election if the states were redrawn under plausible scenarios.” The result is a collection of electoral might-have-beens based on familiar scenarios: Pearcy’s 38 states, Freeman’s 50 states with equal population, even the megaregions based on commuter data we saw earlier this month. Each map demonstrates that, under the U.S. system, who wins depends on where you draw the borders.
At The Skiffy and Fanty Show, Paul Weimer reviews Atlas Obscura. “So is there a point to the book? Is there any good reason to read the book and not just go trolling and traversing through the website, which has many more entries? Yes. Even in an interconnected world such as ours, there is a tactile experience to flipping through this book, coffee table style […] While wandering through links on the website is a time-honored tradition, the book has a presentation that the website can’t quite match.” I reviewed Atlas Obscura last September.
Forbes contributor Tanya Mohn reviews Katherine Harmon’s latest map art book, You Are Here: NYC: Mapping the Soul of the City (previously). If all goes well (it doesn’t always, mind), I should have my own review of this book up later this week. [WMS]
As for the other new map book about New York City, Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro’s Non-Stop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas, there’s a review up on Hyperallergic by Allison Meier, replete with photos of the book. “Every map is an intense act of creative collaboration, with essays and illustrations in Nonstop Metropolis from over 30 artists and writers. […] And the maps emphasize that this city’s character is often missing from our more official cartography.” [WMS]