Two Asian Map Exhibitions in the Netherlands

Two related map exhibitions are taking place right now in the Netherlands. Mapping Japan runs until 26 November at the Japan Museum SieboldHuis in Leiden. Its focus is on 18th- and 19th-century Japanese maps from the Leiden University Libraries’ collections. “The impressive scroll painting of the Japanese coast and the personal maps belonging to Philipp Franz van Siebold (on display for the first time) are unquestionably the highlights of this exhibition.” (Possessing those maps got Siebold in considerable trouble in Japan.) Also in Leiden, Mapping Asia runs until 14 January 2018 at the Museum Volkenkunde. Its focus is on the objectivity (or lack thereof) in cartography, and features maps of both European and Asian origin. One highlight is a digitally reconstructed map of the Chinese Empire. [WMS/WMS]

 

Guatemala’s Giant Relief Map

Mapa en Relieve de Guatemala. Photo by H. Grobe, July 2012. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons licence.

Atlas Obscura has the story of Guatemala’s Mapa en Relieve, an exaggerated-relief 3D relief model of the country. The 1:10,000-scale horizontal, 1:2,000-scale vertical map is approximately 1,800 square metres in area and made of concrete. Built by Francisco Vela and put on display in 1905, the map includes present-day Belize as part of Guatemala, which claimed the British Honduras at that time. It kind of reminds me of British Columbia’s Challenger Map, only a half-century older and made of concrete rather than wood. [WMS]

Predicting Future Malaria Outbreaks from Satellite Data

Data from NASA’s earth-observing satellites is being used to predict future malaria outbreaks in the Amazon rainforests of Peru. To be sure, as the above video shows, this is really about taking geospatial and remote sensing data from several different sources and correlating them to build a predictive model: it’s John Snow’s cholera map at large scale and for the satellite age.

New Gravity Map of Mars

NASA/Goddard/UMBC/MIT/E. Mazarico

A new gravity map of Mars that shows the thickness of the Martian crust based on gravity measurements from Martian orbiters, reveals a crust that is less dense and shows less variation than earlier maps. “The researchers mapped the density of the Martian crust, estimating the average density is 2,582 kilograms per meter cubed (about 161 pounds per cubic foot). That’s comparable to the average density of the lunar crust. Typically, Mars’ crust has been considered at least as dense as Earth’s oceanic crust, which is about 2,900 kilograms per meter cubed (about 181 pounds per cubic foot).”

Oxford Atlas of the World Updated, Reviewed

The Oxford Atlas of the World touts itself as the only world atlas series that gets updated every year. Unlike the Times and National Geographic series it doesn’t come in multiple sizes: there’s just the one, which is roughly equivalent to the Times Concise in size and page count but cheaper ($90 vs. $125). The next edition is the 24th, and it comes out later this fall; the changes are spelled out on the publisher’s page (adopting “Czechia” is one of them, for example). G. T. Dempsey has a review at Geo Lounge.

Le Jardin au Bout du Monde

A couple of weeks ago Atlas Obscura had a fascinating story about toponomy—the naming of places—and my adopted home province of Quebec. In 1997, the Quebec government decided to mark the 20th anniversary of the Charter of the French Language (known popularly around here as Bill 101) by naming 101 islands in the Caniapiscau Reservoir in northern Quebec after significant works of Quebec literature—the names of novels, short stories, poems and plays, as well as expressions taken from those works. Quebec’s Commission de toponymie called the archipelago le Jardin au Bout du Monde (the Garden at the Top of the World). Controversy ensued, as it tends to do in this province: as you might expect from a project commemorating Bill 101, the names came from exclusively francophone works; works by Quebec anglophones were ignored. And the indigenous communities pointed out that the islands were mountains before the reservoir was flooded in the early 1980s, and those mountains had indigenous names. See Atlas Obscura for the full story. [WMS]

Choosing Whether There Will Be a Map

A couple of data points on authors and their decision whether to have a map of their fantasy world.

Mark Lawrence says there won’t be maps for his Book of the Ancestor series of fantasy novels. “I’ve nothing against maps, I just never look at them,” he says; and besides, in the case of these books (Red Sister and the forthcoming Grey Sister) they wouldn’t be necessary.

There is an assumption there … fantasy books have maps. Which is odd, since I have read hundreds (possibly thousands) of novels without maps, many of them set in regions I’m unfamiliar with. The fact is that for a great many works of fiction maps are irrelevant, they are about what people are doing in their lives, if Sarah goes to visit her uncle in Vostok it is sufficient for me to know it took her several hours on the train and when she got there the forests were covered in snow. I don’t need to look it up on a map. It doesn’t matter. […]

In Red Sister the vast majority of the story takes place within a circle a few hundred yards across. The small amount of traveling is simple. The rare references to remote places are similarly simple. The habitable world is a corridor fifty miles wide and tens of thousands of miles long, following the equator. The empire is flanked to the west by one country behind a mountainous border, and to the east by a sea with another country on the far shore.

A map would be a long skinny thing on a page that was 90%+ white space. The detail would be hard to see and invented by me entirely to fill the map … no other reason.

On the other hand, Betsy Dornbusch, author of the Seven Eyes trilogy, finds that working out the map when writing a story—even when it’s in a real-world location—does aid the writing process. “It helped SO MUCH to map it early and while I wrote. Gave me ideas, provided realism and worldbuilding issues, helped the story immensely,” she wrote on Twitter. See the entire Twitter thread beginning here.

Previously: When Fantasy Authors Aren’t Fans of Fantasy Maps.

Repairing and Cleaning Old New York Maps

In yesterday’s New York Times, a piece on efforts by the New York City Municipal Archives to preserve the city’s earliest maps and architectural drawings.

Inside the lab, conservators talk about the care of antique maps like a doctor discusses a patient’s condition and treatment in an intensive care unit.

Conservators will lay a given map on a table for an exam and diagnose the issue: Is it brittle or burned? Damaged by water or tape? Crumbly, delaminated or peeling? Then they record the treatment in a chart of sorts so that years later, the next caretaker will know what remedy was given.

The repair process of a map—like that for a more than 200-year-old, torn illustration of Williamsburg, Brooklyn—typically takes several hours, though sometimes the conservators will spend days working on just one.

[WMS]

New Map Books for September 2017

Map books coming out this month:

The Art of Cartographics (Goodman) is available now in the U.K. but won’t come out in North America until March 2018. The publisher describes it as “a stunning collection of maps designed in a unique way. […] This carefully curated book selects the most creative and interesting map design projects from around the world, and offers inspiration for designers and map-lovers alike. Covering themes including power, gentrification, literature, animals, plants and food, and showcasing handrawn, painted, digital, 3D sculpted and folded maps, Cartographics offers a slice of social history that is as beautiful as it is fascinating.” Buy at Amazon U.K. | Pre-order at Amazon

In a similar vein, while the British edition of Where the Animals Go, a compendium of spectacular maps of animal paths, came out last November, U.S. readers have had to wait until now: W. W. Norton is publishing the U.S. edition, and it comes out next week. Buy at Amazon

Also out next week: the National Geographic Atlas of Beer (National Geographic). I have no information about the quantity or quality of the maps therein, but according to the publisher the book does have some: “The most visually stunning and comprehensive beer atlas available, this richly illustrated book includes more beers and more countries than any other book of its kind. Including beer recommendations from Garrett Oliver, the famed brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, and written by ‘beer geographers’ Nancy Hoalst-Pullen and Mark Patterson, this indispensable guide features more than 100 illuminating maps and over 200 beautiful color photos.” Buy at Amazon

Related: Map Books of 2017.

Tracking Hurricane Irma

Washington Post

As they did with Hurricane Harvey, both the New York Times and the Washington Post graphics departments have frequently updated map pages showing the projected path and impact of Hurricane Irma. The Times’ page looks at the hurricane’s current and projected path, threat of coastal flooding, and areas under evacuation, plus some context; the Post maps Irma’s forecasted path on this page and the potential storm surge and evacuation zones on this page, while this page compares Irma’s size to past hurricanes.

Rare 1857 Map of Chicago Being Auctioned

Chicago Historical Society

A rare copy of James Palmatary’s 1857 map of Chicago is being auctioned next weekCrain’s reports. Only four copies are known to exist of the map, a bird’s-eye view that depicts the city as it was before the Great Fire; this is the only one in private hands. The remaining surviving copies are held by the Chicago Historical Society, the Library of Congress and the Newberry Library. The map is expected to fetch $20,000 to $30,000. [Tony Campbell]

Cartography: ‘A Gently Interactive Show’ at the Halifax Fringe Festival

If you’re in Halifax, you might still have a chance to catch a showing of Colleen MacIsaac’s Cartography at the Halifax Fringe Festival. As The Coast describes it:

For Fringe she has meticulously constructed a small show at The Living Room—maximum 30 seats and 20 minutes—in which she paints a map live, trying to get back to a single tiny, perfect moment in time. […] “I liked the idea of the need to make a map,” says MacIsaac on the patio at The Haligonian, “as opposed to the need to follow a map.”

It’s a gently interactive show: The house size dictates which geographical feature MacIsaac uses as the map’s start point. Patrons are handed a tiny program (“for wayfarers”) that contains a questionnaire asking for places they feel safe, alive, that they can’t remember. “I wanted it to be something where the audience would have a chance to reflect,” she says, “or have some moments in the show where the audience could contemplate their own histories, or their own memories.”

Three showings left: one tonight, one tomorrow afternoon and one Sunday evening. [WMS]

Debunking a Fake Hurricane Map

Also from last week: someone on Facebook circulated a map showing the path of Hurricane Irma hitting Houston, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a warning on Twitter about fake forecasts (real forecasts only go out five days). Media factchecking service PolitiFact has the details. Fun fact: making a counterfeit or false weather forecast is an offense in the United States.