Ellen Harvey’s Network, envisaged as a hand-made glass mosaic depicting Boston’s transportation network, has been chosen as the permanent art installation to be installed at Boston’s South Station. From the proposal:
NETWORK will consist of a hand-made glass mosaic map of the surroundings of South Station juxtaposing the three principal forms of land transportation (rail, subway and road) with the older water-based routes into the city. Each form of transportation is coded a different color—black for subways, dark grey for rail, light grey for roads and silver for water. As travelers descend the stairs, they move towards the ocean where a small mermaid inset in the silvery sea of Boston harbor surveys (literally) the land. NETWORK imagines a world in which the mermaid escapes her destiny of romantic frustration and temptation and decides to take on the land, just as perhaps now we need nature to lead our transportation decisions, rather than to be subject to them.
Harvey, by the way, has the best quote: “There is no romance in your soul if you don’t love a map.” [via]
Andrew Wiseman’s “When Maps Lie” was posted on CityLab last year, but its importance is evergreen: it’s about map literacy, and how to avoid being fooled by confusing, misleading or simply bad maps. This is very much what Mark Monmonier did in How to Lie with Maps (see my review; Amazon, iBooks); Wiseman updates it for the social media age.
Maps are big these days. Blogs and news sites (including this one) frequently post maps and those maps often go viral—40 maps that explain the world, the favorite TV shows of each U.S. state, and so on. They’re all over Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, and news organizations are understandably capitalizing on the power that maps clearly have in digital space: they can visualize a lot of data quickly and effectively. But they can also visualize a lot of data inaccurately and misleadingly.
There was a time, not too long ago, when our Super Tuesday map would have been impossible to put together and display. Even earlier in the digital era, a complete vote-totals map wouldn’t have been available until every ballot was counted at the end of the night. (Not to mention that in the print-only era, no map would be available until two days after the vote, and then often only in black and white.)
The Aspen Daily News has a profile of map artist James Niehues, who’s painted hundreds of different aerial views of ski resorts and recreational areas since the late 1980s. (If you’ve seen a poster of your local ski resort, odds are Niehues was the one who painted it. He sells prints of them, too.) The article names Niehues as heir to an artistic tradition of alpine cartographic art whose practitioners included Hal Shelton and Bill Brown.
Without knowing it, Niehues had become heir to an American artistic dynasty. Shelton was trained as [a] U.S. Geological Survey cartographer and produced a large number of famous trail maps in the 1960s and 1970s. In the ’70s, Shelton passed the torch to Brown, and by 1988, Brown was ready to pass the torch off to someone else.
In the early 2000s, though, it seemed that the storied line of American mountain illustrators would end with Niehues. His maps, many of which had faithfully represented ski trails for decades, began to be replaced by digitally rendered pieces whose production values placed speed above quality.
But there’s a twist: one of the digital illustrators, Rad Smith, ended looking to Niehues for inspiration and mentorship. Demand for painted maps turns out to be more resilient; Niehues, who I believe is in his late sixties and has described himself as semi-retired, may have someone to pass the torch to after all. It’s a fascinating read. [via]
The Book Riot piece I linked to in January by A. J. O’Connell dealt with the editorial decision on whether to include a map in a fantasy novel. That article appears to have followed up on O’Connell’s piece from last August, which I missed. It explores why some fantasy authors may or may not be fans of maps (Terry Goodkind, for one, calls them a distraction), and how they decide whether to include them with their novels. Authors discussed include Joe Abercrombie and N. K. Jemisin, both of whom added maps to later books after earlier books went without; in each case, though, the map served a purpose, and not just to signify that yes, it’s an epic fantasy novel because look! it has maps on the endpapers.
FiveThirtyEight maps the Facebook likes of the U.S. presidential candidates: “If Facebook likes were votes, Bernie Sanders would be on pace to beat Hillary Clinton nationwide by a nearly 3-to-1 margin and Donald Trump to garner more support than Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio combined. Anything seems possible this year, but, still, be careful how you interpret these numbers: Facebook likes are not votes.” They ain’t kidding—Ben Carson?! [via]
Three years ago Alejandro Polanco (who blogs about maps in Spanish at La Cartoteca) launched Maptorian, a collection of editable vector maps aimed at graphic designers, journalists, teachers, students and others who need to make maps, know how to use applications like Adobe Illustrator but don’t have a GIS background. Now a Kickstarter campaign has launched for the improved-expanded-updated sequel, Maptorian Plus. Read Alejandro’s post (in Spanish).
In mapping, lines are (mostly) used as borders to divide the space in sections: borders between land and water, borders between different altitudes or borders between nations. As a person who loves to make maps, for the last weeks I was thinking about what I can do to draw a line to CONNECT instead of DIVIDE. So I created a world map consisting of a single line. When watching the map from far away you cannot see the connections. It looks like everything is divided. But if you go closer you can see that everything is one. To realize that we are somehow all one community you need to go close to others.
Of the maps of the Democratic and Republican U.S. presidential primary and caucus results I’ve seen so far, I rather like the county-by-county maps done by Reddit user Mainstay17. Here’s one for the Democrats that includes the results from the Super Tuesday states: