Strange Maps on Perception Maps

Over on Strange Maps, which like this here site is still a going concern, Frank Jacobs has a nice writeup of the history of perception maps. These are maps that provide a skewed or exaggerated view, usually of the United States, that favours their preferred part of it. The best known is Saul Steinberg’s 1976 New Yorker cover (“View of the World from 9th Avenue”) but there were antecedents. Frank covers the examples I mentioned in these previous entries: McCutcheon’s View; McCutcheon’s 1908 Cartoon. Plus a few others.

The Challenger Map Re-Emerges; Fundraising Campaign Under Way

The iconic Challenger map—a 26×24-metre exaggerated relief map of British Columbia made of nearly a million pieces of jigsaw-cut plywood, is now on display at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame as part of an exhibition on the early days of the Pacific National Exhibition, where the map was on display between 1954 and 1997. This is only for a few months; its appearance part of a fundraising campaign to restore the map.

Previously: Challenger Map Gets Reprieve; Challenger Map Update; Another Challenger Map Update; Challenger Map Back on Display, Sort Of.

States of Confusion

Richard Peter Johnson has been posting quizzes on Reddit where the shapes of countries and U.S. states are flipped, rotated and/or inverted and you’re challenged to identify them. It’s actually harder than you might think—especially when they’re inverted or mirror-flipped—and messes with your perception in the way that, say, upside-down world maps do.

xkcd: The Greenland Special

xkcd: Bad Map Projections: The Greenland Special
Randall Munroe, “Bad Map Projection: The Greenland Special,” xkcd, 14 July 2021

At some point, xkcd cartoonist Randall Munroe is going to put out a book focusing on his map-related cartoons, isn’t he. The latest in his “Bad Map Projection” series (previously: All South Americas, Time Zones, Liquid Resize) is The Greenland Special, an equal-area projection except for Greenland, which uses Mercator. And I thought he was messing with us before.

Bharat Mata Mandir Marble Map of India

Photo by Hiroki Ogawa. CC licence.

I was unaware of Bharat Mata Mandir temple’s map of an undivided India until Mappery pointed to it. It’s another one of those giant relief map installations, only this one is made of marble; it sits in the temple in lieu of an idol. India is shown undivided—i.e., it doesn’t show the post-partition boundaries—because the temple was built in 1936.

The Contiguous 41 States—Wait, What?

Contiguous 41 States (xkcd)
Randall Munroe, “Contiguous 41 States.” xkcd, 4 Dec 2020.

The thing about this xkcd cartoon is that at first glance it’s entirely plausible: Randall has done violence to state boundaries while maintaining the rough overall shape of the lower 48. He’s snipped out seven states without anyone noticing if they don’t look too closely.

Previously: xkcd’s United States Map‘They Just Wanted to Fix Some Things About the State Borders’.

These Globes Are Uncanny

Globus PolskiTwice now I’ve encountered globes that I find more than a bit unsettling, in that they wrap a map of a portion of the Earth around an entire globe.

The first one I ran across was the Globus Polski or Poland Globe, an inexpensive 12-inch globe which comes in two versions, administrative and physical, and depicts the country of Poland as if it were Pangaea. According to a comment on the Reddit post where I think I first saw it, there are apparently other single-country globes like this out there.

Silk Road Globe (Bellerby)

The second is the polar opposite of the Poland Globe: it’s large, expensive and one of a kind: a bespoke, illustrated globe of the Silk Route that took Bellerby more than a year to complete to the customer’s exact specifications. The main map on the globe covers the Silk Route itself, from the Mediterranean to Japan; the back of the globe—this globe has a back side“features a map of China with overlapping details on the eras at the time of the Silk Route.”

I have to confess that I’m weirded out by this sort of globe: they fall into a cartographic uncanny valley in which the thing mapped is ostensibly correct but in a form that somehow feels deeply wrong.

The Topologist’s Map of the World

The Topologist’s Map of the World

Tom created the Topologist’s Map of the World to show how countries connect to each other. Deliberately emulating the style of a T-O map, Tom started with a Voronoi diagram and finished the map in Inkscape. Exclaves are ignored (too complicated), and islands encircle the rest of the map. Among Tom’s observations: “Some countries get really distorted—mostly when they find themselves near the centre of a continent. I’d often thought of Germany as the centre of Europe, but here, Austria and Hungary get really stretched out because they end up bordering countries on opposite sides of the continent.” [r/MapPorn]

The Guardian Interviews Martin Vargic

Detail from Martin Vargic, “Britannia Under the Waves.”

Yesterday’s Guardian had an interview with Slovak designer Martin Vargic, whom you may remember for his 2015 book Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps [Amazon, Bookshop]. In this interview, Vargic talks about his various projects—he’s been doing this since he was eight, and was a teenager when Miscellany was published. One imagines there’s a bit of a career ahead for him.

Meanwhile, Andrew Liptak wrote about Vargic’s “Map of the Literature II” at Tor.com last October. In November Vargic’s second book, Vargic’s Curious Cosmic Compendium, came out in the U.K. from Michael Joseph.

Previously: Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps.

SMBC Takes the Mercator Projection into Its Own Hands

SMBC: Mercator
From “Mercator”, SMBC, 24 Feb 2020.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’s take on the Mercator projection is … not what you’d expect. The punch line is similar to Christopher Rowe’s short story, “Another Word for Map Is Faith”: if you can’t make the map conform to the territory, make the territory conform to the map. Since we’re dealing with the Mercator projection, this requires some … escalation.

xkcd: All South Americas

Randall Munroe, “Bad Map Projection: South America.” xkcd, 17 Jan 2020.

xkcd is back with another bad map projection: in this one, it’s all South Americas. The alt-text: “The projection does a good job preserving both distance and azimuth, at the cost of really exaggerating how many South Americas there are.”

Previously: xkcd’s Time Zone Map; xkcd’s Liquid Resize Map Projection; xkcd’s United States Map.

SMBC’s Alternatives to a Flat Earth

“Flat,” SMBC, 8 Aug 2019.

It’s not like xkcd has a monopoly on comics about maps. Last week, Zach Weinersmith’s Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal web comic posted a comic about alternative non-spherical Earth theories: everything from a hollow Earth to, well, stranger variations—including a slightly lumpy oblate spheroid Earth, which I frankly find hard to believe in.

Giant 1940 Model of San Francisco Digitally Assembled

WPA model of San Francisco (David Rumsey Map Collection)

A massive wooden model of the city of San Francisco that has not been on display, at least in one piece, since 1942 has been re-assembled as a virtual model by the David Rumsey Map Collection. Built by the WPA, the model was assembled from 158 individual pieces to form a massive, 42×38-foot (12.8×11.6m) model at a scale of 1:1,200, and represented a snapshot of the city as it was in 1940. It’s available as a single composite image, as well as images of individual pieces; a Google Earth layer enables the model to be viewed at an oblique angle and superimposed on modern satellite imagery. Sections of the model itself will be on display at various branches of the San Francisco Public Library as part of Bik Van der Pol’s Take Part project; the exhibits will take place between 25 January and 25 March 2019. [Boing Boing]

Previously: Urbano Monte’s 1587 World Map, Digitally Assembled.