Saturday, October 17, 2009

Metro train as urban safari

See building blog's post on the new exhibition Safari 7 Reading Room, at NYC's Studio-X. A train route seen in terms of the ecosystems it traverses.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

MAPS LIE: even as they tell the truth

This presentation seeks to:

- Analyze the conceptual and formal qualities (and their implications) reflected in Eyal Weizman's 'B'tselem Map of Jewish
Settlements in the West Bank'.

- It seeks to compare pertinent aspects of this analysis to two other mappings, and also discuss the methods chosen in each of the works to illustrate their intent.

The three maps chosen for the analysis are:

OYED' - by Emily Jacir
3. 'CRISIS IN DARFUR' - A Google Earth and USHMM outreach initiative.



- The map was produced as part of the exhibition 'A Civilian Occupation: The politics of Israeli Architecture', by architects Eyal Weizman and Rafi Segal, in collaboration with B'tselem (and Israeli human rights organization, that acts primarily to change Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories).

Israeli Policy in the Occupied Territories: " ...Israel has established a seperation cum discrimination regime in the Occupied Territories, through which it maintains two systems of laws, and a person's rights are based on his or her national origin...
...As part of the regime, Israel has stolen thousands of 'dunams' of land from the Palestinians. On this land, Israel has established dozens of settlements in which hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians now live...
...Israel forbids Palestinians to enter and use these lands and uses the settlements to justify violations of Palestinian rights...
...the sharp changes made to the map of the West Bank make a viable Palestinian state impossible as part of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination..."

- Excerpts from the B'tselem website, Land Expropriation and Settlements,

- The map is an illustration of the extensive process of land grabbing instituted by the government of Israel.

- The process of map construction involved collecting master plans of over 150 Israeli settlements, comparing/collating them with aerial photographs and previously collected satellite images.

- The map is widely accepted as accurate, in Israel and outside.


- The map uses color primarily to establish -

a) Differentiation between Israeli and Palestinian settlements, and

b) The actual size of Israeli settlements, compared to the areas around it claimed by the Israeli government under differing pretexts.

- The contrast between the cool blues and the warm ochers of the Israeli and Palestinian settlements, heightens the presence of Israeli occupation on what is technically all Palestinian land. It emphasizes the extent of occupation, and alludes to a large scale Palestinian displacement.

- The map reveals its bias in its choice of colors to represent the opposing factions - Cool blues (relating metaphorically to a calculated intervention by Israel) and Warm ochers (relating to the pathos of the Palestinian people).

- It uses color gradations to illustrate the size of settlements, the allocated area for their projected growth and the greater reach of the jurisdiction of the settlements' regional council. These area definitions when seen all together as a set, reveal the extent of the land grabbing instituted by the Israeli government under the pretext of protecting the interest of its civilian settlers.

- Most existing maps of the West Bank illustrate the settlements as points, with some indicating alongside the population of the settlements. The B'tselem map, diverges from this mode of expression. By outlining the 'actual' shape, reach and positioning of the settlements, their municipalities and regional council jurisdiction the map communicates -

  • the scale of intervention
  • the actual size of settlements versus the area claimed (the collective size of all Israeli settlements amounts t0 approx. 2% of the total West Bank land area, the larger area claimed by the Israeli government under pretext of natural expansion and jurisdiction amounts to almost 47% of the total land area.)
  • the planned strategy of locating settlements so as to disconnect larger Palestinian settlements from outlying villages and strategic control over key military routes (e.g.: the Israeli settlement of Ariel)

Maps, as all mediums of communication do, serve the interests of those that commission/make them. They tend to portray points of view - however impartial the intent. Consequently, maps lie, consciously or not.

While this map sets out the scope of the Palestinian dislocation that has occurred, and alludes to the scale of human rights violations therein, its paints a one sided picture. As intended by its makers, it serves to illustrate the occupation by Israel of Palestinian ground within a larger discussion of Palestinian human rights violations. It does not however, allude to any persecution of Israeli settlers.

The maps portrays one aspect of what is a long story of struggle and dispute between two communities. While accurate in its representation, it leads the 'uneducated' viewer to form assumptions out of reference with the whole context.

For instance, the large extent of blue on the map illustrates the extent of Israeli occupation, with reference to the actual small size of the settlements. The dialogue it possibly omits to mention in this expression is the scope of civilian persecution within these smaller Israeli settlements upon 'foreign' land.



- This mapping was executed by the artist, Emily Jacir in 2001, during her residency at PS1's National Studio Program.

- While differing from a traditional cartographic visual expression, it is an effective expression of information communication.

- The construction/execution of this artwork involved the artist's sourcing of a refugee tent, and penciling upon it names of 418 Palestinian villages that were destroyed or depopulated during and after the 1948 war in which Palestine was occupied by Israel. The artist invited members of this displaced community to contribute to the embroidering of the village names onto the tent, thus organizing a collective exchange of experiences, stories and healing.

- The map was deliberately left incomplete, to illustrate the ongoing course of the displacements and human right violations.

- The decision to write the names in English instead of the Arabic script, so as not to distract from the pathos expressed by considerations of the calligraphic beauty of the writing.

COMPARISION - Similarity and Contrary Aspects:

- This artwork shares a common concept with the B'tselem map in that it seeks to draw attention to the displacement of the Palestinian people.

- While the B'tselem map deconstructs Israeli claims, and clarifies the scale of the land usurped in a methodical, scientific and factual manner, the 'refugee tent' alludes to the same, while focusing primarily on the human tragedy from an emotional point of view.

- These contrary positions are further illustrated by their chosen mediums of expression.

- The tent is constructed by victims of the ongoing war themselves, as versus the map, which may be perceived as a third person point of view. This accords the tent an unchallengeable veracity, while the map though widely acknowledged remains a political interpretation.

- Another dissimilarity is the 'view' employed by both works. While the B'tselem map employs the traditional planometric projection, the 'tent' employs a very personal and grounds up view of the same scenario. In this the map remains (despite its objectives) the 'occupier purveying territory' while the 'tent' relates to the 'ground reality' - names, faces, homes, places - of the dispute.



- Google Earth (GE) in collaboration with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) has instituted an outreach program 'Crisis in Darfur', wherein, GE maps on its interface the location of every single Darfurian villages know to be destroyed or damaged.

- In addition to 'locating' the villages on GE's 'virtual globe', the initiative allows each village tag to inform about the number of poeple displaced/killed, photographs from ground level, first person testimonials and links to essays about the crisis elsewhere on the internet.

- This mapping was initiated to bring awareness of the humanitarian conflict to approx. 200 million GE users, with a view towards generating international support.

- The simplistic 'icon' based representation of the damaged sites allow for easy recognition upon the larger GE interface.

- The GE globe is developed by a 'stitching' of satellite images to mime the appearance of the earth from above. Since the user can zoom into varying heights from ground level, it allows for a clearer exploration of the terrain - emphasizing the act of natural calamities (drought) upon a population under strife from war.

- The choice of interface used for the mapping, is significant to the purpose of the act - generating awareness. The GE platform differs from a traditional cartography significantly as it offers immediate options for further education about the crisis. The mapping takes into account that awareness may engineer a desire for a deeper understanding of the crisis, and hence seeks to cater to users with differing 'scales' of awareness. It (attempts to) allows for varying levels of information dissemination to cater to differing user profiles.

Its platform, enables diverse forms of communication (map, photography, testimonials etc) - each of which have differing impacts upon the viewer.

- The GE interface is however not an extensively sociable one. This ensures that the user's experience of the 'initiative' is of a one-sided perspective and is as purported by GE.

COMPARISION - Similarities and Contrasts:

- Both maps are perceived to be generally unbiased.

- The B'tselem map addresses its subject from a scientific and geographical approach. It addresses its detail to a single aspect of a larger issue - attempting to communicate it accurately. The GE initiative, however, addresses its subject from a geographical and emotional approach - attempting to give a generic idea of the 'scale and scope' of the crisis. It addresses directly the various human rights violations suffered by the civilian Darfurian population, while the B'tselem map (restricted by its medium) merely alludes to them.

- Concurrently, the GE initiative, appears 'lost' in the scope of its attempts, addressing various issues superficially as compared to the B'tselem map that is focused in the singularity of its intention.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Guy Debord & Neighborhood Maps

Guy Debord (1931-1994)

Founding member of the Situationist International

Founding member of the Lettrists

Author of the Society of the Spectacle

dissertation on the media infused life and its shortcomings

dissertation on our lives in relation to reproduction versus experience

Work in film and “Nothingness”

Last piece was a direct contradiction of his work—an idealistic look back at the Paris of his youth

overly romanticized

one person’s view

Situationist International (1957-1972)

Lettrists (1952-1957) precurser

Aimed to disrupt any form of what they took to be the dominant regime or capitalist power

Accelerate the collapse of “the society of the spectacle”

“Hoped to overcome art as a whole in the name of the only true art that did not allow itself to become co-opted by the spectacle and the market.”

“The artist was left with a single mission: to create new situations for a new kind of human being”

Children of the existentialists and the surrealists, one must acknowledge and use art and society, as well as overcome it.

Full of contradiction—to deny the cannon yet become a part of it

To create ephemera and entertainment as a critique of its own medium

To become famous off denying the idea of celebrity

To benefit from the capitalist system you hate- Make money

Discours sur les passions de l’amour

Map of a drift through the city of Paris, walked through city and turned wherever he chose

Not interested in art objects and styles

Interested in engaging life situations and social formations


According to Debord: “The study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”

Exploring cities via non-predictable paths and jolting back into awareness of the space


Creating a “map” has an implied audience, thus Debord is forcing his experience on others

Cannot be an equal creation- his map is more widely disseminated than mine would be because of his resources and stature within a group

Is able to make money off of its reproduction

Contribute to his celebrity, because it was his singular view

Able to follow path, out of curiosity with Debord, not curiosity of the city

Reduce an experience into 2d form

creation of art object

Boyland Heights Pumpkin Map

Dennis Wood, 1982

many other maps created

viewers would know the streets very well as it was placed in a book of maps of the neighborhood, for its inhabitants

more pumpkins ended up in richer neighborhoods

speak to economic conditions

speaks to environmental knowledge

physicality of streets is removed, but referenced

Unable to navigate if you do not know, useless if you have a motive

Time and seasonally specific

Choose pumpkin faces randomly

some did not turn out right

some were repeated

Visually appealling


Harold Horowitz, 1997

Poem took a year to write

Personal experience

Physicality of streets removed

Geography, emotion, and culture referenced and work together in visual space

Imposing view of city on others

Color impressions

Idealize situation

Useless of you have a motive

Visually appealing


City/Neighborhood with physical elements removed or skewed

This is not an areal view, street view, without the streets

useless if you have your own motive

what is next is not addressed

how do I get here?

How do I get out?

What is the audience’s role?

Time as a silent element

Horowitz’s Manhattan references events that are seasonal, or things that no longer take place in the corresponding space to their relationship on the map

Debord’s reflection of his own drift through Paris

How long was this drift?

I would not be walking through the same Paris has he did

How did the time of day effect his walking patterns?

Was it midday during a traffic jam?

Did he record his walk during it or after it had taken place? Could his walk actually have been different

Wood’s record of pumpkins

If you went there now there might be pumpkins, but they would not be the same.

If you went in the spring there would be no pumpkins

Would times of economic hardship change the amount of pumpkins?


When one is recording an experience there are many more questions that arise than answers

This is not an areal view, street view, without the streets

Personal view imposed and printed, although changing through time

Can maps really be universal?

Can maps really be personal?

Can maps pinpoint a time and space and experience that can be recreated or not recreated?

Are we inherently following someone else’s plan whenever we seemingly “drift” or use maps?

Introduction and Goals:

To show how environmental, social and cultural factors of John Snow’s historical mapping of the Broad St, London cholera outbreak of 1854 made this an effective historical tool.

Compare with two maps on and show how my own conception of mapping usefulness has changed through this study.

How even the slightest critical reading can show map failings.

How one should not altogether reject failing maps, but should help in immediate recognition of highly effective ones.

Snow Background

Had mastered various disciplines, became first sought after anesthesiologist, assisted the Queen with chloroform.

Possible that interest in cholera came from popular suggestion that chloroform was potential cure.

Had previously theorized about transmission of cholera and was using map as smaller part of argument about the transmission.

Water at other pumps LOOKED worse than water at the Broad St pump. Mapping proved otherwise, predicating germ theories by 30 years.

IMAGE: bar map

Initial deaths marked by thick black bar making houses with more deaths, more apparent.

HOWEVER, “needed to show lives, not deaths and show how the neighborhood was actually traversed” (195).

IMAGE: dot map

Comment on absence of brewery and workhouse labels.

Henry Whitehead gets credit for social data and for describing usefulness of outliers. (poor guy was left out of Tufte’s discussion?)

Johnson Conclusions

It was not the mapmaking that mattered it was the underlying science that it revealed (J, 194).

Originality of the map did not revolve around representation or result, but in the data & in the investigation that compiled the data (194).

In the long run was a triumph of marketing as much as empirical science (201).

Snow/Whitehead Model has two key principles that are central to the way that cities generate new ideas:

1) Importance of amateurs and unofficial local experts

2) Later cross-disciplinary flow of ideas

Drawing on collective wisdom narratives, Google Map API, etc.

Tufte Conclusions

1) Placing data in appropriate context for cause and effect

Data was somewhat useless on a list

2) Making quantitative comparisons

Comparison of frequency of deaths b/w locations

3) Considering alternative explanations & contrary cases

Narrative documents

Workhouse and Brewery had own pumps

People came from areas w/ much closer pumps to get water from B st.

4) Assessment of possible errors in the numbers reported in graphics

Perhaps only place it fails

Dot map does not address overall population density

Mapping Comparisons:

Chose the first two that came to mind but intend to show where the convergence lies through the lens of Tufte and Johnson.

Both are linked somewhat directly to the Snow map by a particular characteristic.

From Hell Map:


Based on Stephen knight’s theory that murders were cover-up for illegitimate royal birth fathered by Prince Albert.

Resolution of uniquely urban occurrence due to population density.

Attempts to put viewer on the ground with the cases.

Obviously visual and thematic link with the idea of a series of grisly 19th century London deaths

Fails miserably because it only has one variable,

(Even if you were a prostitute in 1888 it wouldn’t tell you where not to go!)

Disease Maps/Global Cholera Maps:



-Does not show time variable

-Does not allow for conjecture about causes, prevention, etc.

-No human element

From (graphic information systems ed in Australia)

-Slightly more useful due to time constraint, but not really

-High end of data range is outrageous (the DRC)

-No human element


-Percentages are arbitrary

-Water map tells us little about cholera outbreak (causal but not definitive)

-More of human story, as water supply is somewhat more relatable than cholera suffering

Both attempt to show relationships, but one puts you on the ground with no useful data and the other gives you a birds’ eye view with no human story or element.

Works Cited

Johnson, Steven. The Ghost Map. Riverhead Books. New York: 2006.

Moore, Alan and Eddie Campbell. From Hell. Kitchen Sink: 1999.

Tufte, Edward R. Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative.

Graphics Press. Cheshire: 1997.

Various sites for contemporary cholera maps (see above).

Map as Metaphor

Here is the text based notes I made... I refined the lecture notes when I put it all together in power point. If anyone would like to see my power point email me.

Map as Metaphor

A metaphor is… something expressed in the terms of something else.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely actors;
They have their exits and their entrances; — William Shakespeare, As You Like It.

Show historical Map of Texas.

The Road to Success - Allegorical Cartoon from the National Cash Register Co. 1913.

Why do we use metaphors?
* The process of translating one idea into another often yields insights into the original idea.
* Metaphors are useful tools for understanding complex or abstract concepts.

Love is a rose
but you better not pick it
It only grows when it's on the vine.
A handful of thorns and
you'll know you've missed it
You lose your love
when you say the word 'mine'.

- Neil Young.

Complex Concept Map
Herman Moll: A new map of the whole world with the trade winds, in: Atlas minor, 3rd ed., London 1736

Abstract Concept Map
Connecting Distant Dots Author(s):
Tyler Lang, Elsa Chaves
Seed Magazine…

Created for Seed Magazine, this diagram maps the connections between the most disparate of forces, events and systems affecting our planet. In the center of the concentric circles are the most fundamental influences (population growth, deforestation, increased fertilizer demand, etc). Rippling outward are the effects, which create a surprising number of synergies. Red lines depict reinforcing relationships, while blue lines show some of the inhibitory forces that also come into play.

All Metaphors break down.

The Wold is NOT a stage. (If we are actors who is the audience?)
Love is NOT a rose. (Do you feed love with dirt?)
A Map is NOT reality.

World Map.

Mercator Projection (1569) - Useful for sailing because of its ability to represent lines of constant course, known as rhumb lines or loxodromes, as straight segments. Distorts size and shape as you move toward poles.

James Gall (1855) - (1970) Arno Peters Projection - Equal-area Projection. Does a good job of showing the relative sizes of land but distorts the shape quite a bit.

Winkel Tripel projection (1920s) - adopted in 1998 as the National Geographic Society map of choice. Does the best job of compromising size and shape.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

How Maps Can Tell Stories

- all 3 maps are stories of journeys (2 are specific points in time; 1 is an annual event)
- focus on journey first & see how well maps tell it
- climate plays a large role in all of the journeys
- 2 stories focus on loss of life; 1 journey involves births, as well (but map doesn't show it)

Russian Campaign 1812-1813
- Russia broke treaty promises with France (embargo against Britian, et. al) & if he didn't attack, then Russia would attack his forces in Poland (Grand Duchy of Warsaw)
- Napoleon attempted to negotiate, but was unable to; didn't want to fight; had another war going on in Spain at the same time w/ 200,000 men
- Napoleon expected a quick and easy defeat; thought the Grand Armee would be engaged quickly & never intended to go all the way to Moscow; Russia's armies were divided by several days & together only numbered 200,000
on June 23, 1812 roughly half a million soldiers crossed the Niemen River into czarist Russia; the biggest ever assembled in history to that point; made up of roughly 20 countries (i.e. 20 different languages; different and/or lack of motivation); 1/3 French; 2/3 other countries
- well-prepared for a summer campaign; Charles XII of Sweden had been defeated by Russians in 1709 & Napoleon studied this, determined not to let Russia's winter defeat him; “A major system of advance supply depots was planned and the attacking forces carried 14 days' provisions, evidence that a prompt settlement was expected”
- also shows movement of auxiliary troops (upper side detachment)
- weather turns bad; by some measure, the weather going in was worse; heat became intolerable; soldiers died from thirst, exhaustion & heat stroke & the horses were also unprepared for this campaign (no spare horses, so when they die, the supplies don't move forward; someone doesn't ride a horse, etc.)
- lost men due to heat, desertion (not typically French, but men from other countries), leaving people behind to protect the flank & skirmishes (Russians refused to give significant battles; were skirmishes that the Grand Armee won all of)
- in September, 100,000 reach Moscow (already burning, sacked & deserted by the Russians)
- only way to win eventually became to defeat the Russian army (which joined together at some point) & they withdrew to Moscow; Napoleon didn't think they would allow him to take Moscow unopposed b/c it was the heart of Russia (w/ the Kremlin, etc.)
sent emissaries to negotiate peace while in Moscow; met with silence from St. Petersburg
- stayed in Moscow for 35 days (kept hoping Czar Alexander would give in) – transition between autumn and the bitterness of the Russian winter; too cold, not enough facilities for his men, not enough men, not enough way to protect forces, supply lines were very long, how long should Napoleon be away from Paris (plots against him), limited opportunities for reinforcements; Russians had unlimited opportunities to increase their military forces surrounding him so Napoleon finally decides to leave & return
decides to take a more southerly route that will avoid the potentially worst weather; also going back same way would have come across same scorched earth
- engagement as they begin to return to Poland; Napoleon wins; turns north & starts retracing steps b/c feels unsure...not many calvary, men are getting tired; had he continued south, the path was mostly open
- returns to the battlefield of Borodino; had been several months since they had fought; 10s of 1000s of French soldier bodies were still there
- December 3 (discussing weather turning terrible on November 7) “This army so fine on the 6th was very different on the 14th : lost a lot of calvalry, artillery, men
- supply depot in Smolensk; not enough food for everyone
- people literally froze to death while they were walking; a lot froze to death at night – didn't have appropriate clothing b/c it was - never meant to be a winter campaign
- finally reach the Berezina River: one of the earliest & coldest winters but not cold enough to freeze the Berezina river so had to build bridges (Russians had destroyed existing bridges)
- engineers build 2 bridges: one to move men, one to move horses, supplies, artillery, etc.
- Russians are attacking from both sides, but the crossing is fairly orderly at first
- soldiers waiting to cross, friendly-Russians who need to leave, women & other hanger-ons & there's a great panic & 22,000 die in 2 days (from 50,000); burn bridges as they cross
- Napoleon decides he's more needed in Paris, so he doesn't stay with the army anymore
- crossed back over the Nieman River with only 10,000 survivors
- “By the time the remains of Napoleon's army reached home, more than 1000 pieces of artillery, 200,000 horses & 570,000 men had been left behind in the glaciated terrain of northwest Russia”

Formal Qualities of Map
- includes Minard's name & credentials, as well as 5 sources for his information
- shows a possible connection between temperature and death of the army; warmest temp recorded is 32°F
- shows 6 variables: army's size, its location (lat & long), its movement/direction, temperature (linked only to dark return line) and dates
- published in November 1869 with a map showing Hannibal's diminishing army in the Alps
- an “anti-war” map
- focused on the human cost of life in war
- Napoleon's name does not appear; thus giving full attention to “memorializing the dead soldiers than celebrating the surviving celebrity”
- enhancement of river lines
- aggregation and simplification of Grand Armee
- selection of cities represented
- shows cold temperatures relation w/ diminishing size but actually many more were lost in the summer

Misc. Facts
- shelves & shelves of books related to this single event in time – amazing that Minard's map can tell the story as well as it does
ate a lot of horse meat on the way home
- Borodino: one of the best preserved battlefields in the world
- climates in Russia vary considerably but “every section has cold winters that are exceptionally severe in the northern forests and tundra”
- Russia, being deep within land mass, has minimized maritime effects, “being replaced by continentality, which ensures a climate of extremes”; France's climate is mostly “influenced by air that originates over the Atlantic Ocean and penetrates inland to lessen temperature extremes, both winter & summer. These milder conditions exist primarily because the ocean heats & cools more slowly than the terrain of Asia. That is, unlike land, water warms slowly while absorbing and storing large amonths of energy, only to gradually release it to overlying air year-round”
- Russian army leadership was weak & Alexander had never led troops into battle before
- the toll of both French & Russian casualties is estimated between 700,000-1,000,000
- Russian roads weren't built to accommodate 600,000 men marching across them w/ wagons, ammunition, cannonballs, etc.; impassable b/c of sheer number of men (communication slows as it becomes difficult to move through ranks)...not mud or anything
Russia doing scorched-earth policy
- “the impact of rain, snow and ice on trafficability and mobility can be critical”; functionality of weaponry & machinery can be impacted, as well as moving ballistics & even having reduced visibility
- Napoleon hopes the battle of Borodino will be the decisive victory that would lead to peace
- extreme heat & mud (worst mud in spring & autumn) from summer rains probably presented some problems, but the cold would prove to be more lethal than the enemy
- Charles Minard: 1781-1870; 88 when map was published; a renowned engineer; did large public works projects and designed canals, bridges, roads & docks; retired at age 70 & spent the next 18 years working on figurative maps, mostly military; was confined in Antwerp in 1813 during bombardment; images which stuck with him
- Napoleon: 1769-1821

Trail of Tears
- Trail of Tears was the government-sanctioned forced relocation of Cherokees from their homelands in the deep south to Oklahoma in 1838
- no exact figures on the death toll, but roughly between 2,000-4,000 (out of roughly 12,000-16,000 Cherokee who initially resisted location); estimates of 1 in 4 dying
- thousand-mile forced march began in winter of 1838 for women, men & children
- many died from disease (given blankets with small pox), cold and starvation in internment camps before the march began (kept in camps while their farms were auctioned to white settlers)
- farmers charged Cherokees high tolls for crossing, including ferries, their land, etc.
- started off as a drought, then rained a lot then was very cold (similar to Napoleon's march...not sure about the drought in Russia, but there was a lot of rain before it turned cold); made navigating rivers dangerous for travel
- “Ross's party reached Fort Smith in Indian Territory by March 1839, the last to arrive. Some groups had spent three months on the road. Others marched as long as six months through six states and territories.” (John Ross was a Cherokee leader)

Formal Qualities of Trail of Tears map
- simplification/enhancement of state borders
- enhancement of rivers
- abbreviation (of river names)
- displacement of city names (connecting line - feel like there was a term for this; look again)
- probable aggregation/smoothing of area features of Cherokee Nation (east)
- time-series map

Trail of Tears map contrast to Napoleon map
- no return journey (from one group of 875 Cherokees, only 602 reached the territory alive)
- doesn't show loss of life, dates, temperatures (which affected death rate here, as well); no accurate record of precipitation or temperatures during the relocation time periods; information comes from scattered first-hand accounts of the hardships
- not an emotional representation; legend says "Routes of Emigration"; neutral/misleading term - who commissioned this map? - Unable to discover origin/background during brief research
- doesn't tell you the assumptions made in creating the map
- shows movement direction (directly by using arrows)
- Napoleon map reads more quickly, as it moves from left to right & back again (at least it starts out like reading); Trail of Tears moves right to left to create a slightly awkward/uncomfortable "read" of the map (which also necessitates use of directional arrows)

Hummingbird Migration Map
- hummingbirds: at least 341 species; roughly 21 that breed in the U.S. & have to migrate due to food sources
- males are highly territorial: head N in the spring at least a week before females do to establish territory & will also leave 2 weeks before females & babies to head S in the fall
- migration has to take place well before cold weather, not b/c they can't tolerate cold but b/c their food supply can't
- “return migrants are well-timed to match blooming of hummingbird-pollinated food plants”
- early return for males = better territory/possible death
- routes are sustained only if they're effective & enough of the population remains; gradually change routes...not immediate
- “climate & changing weather patterns are the major influences that shape migratory routes & destinations”; misjudging conditions can lead to death or ending up in odd places, due to drifting & being unable to stay on course

Formal Qualities of Hummingbird Map (from memory - will need to check & revise)
- selection and enhancement of rivers
- smoothing and simplification of land
- area conversion (of hummingbird pop)
- time-series map
- tells assumptions: unless otherwise indicated, birds travel out from & back to their breeding grounds on the same route

Hummingbird Map contrast to Napoleon map
- shows direction & round trip return
- shows regionality rather than population size (how would births affect this map?)
- indicates seasonal cause for movement
- explanation for having a different route home?

Misc. Facts
- 1/2 the world's bird species migrate
- week of migration is usually pre-ordained but exact date is determined by weather
- migration is instinctive; black cap example: birds bred in W fly SW; birds bred in E fly SE; hybrid birds fly S & die over Alps; "survival lies in keeping to the migratory divide"
- birds can be tricked into speeding up their breeding, molting, migratory restlessness & putting on weight (normal yearly cycle) by light exposure; the record is held by a starling who was tricked into molting 8 times in one year

Friday, October 9, 2009

Phyllis Pearsall and the London A to Z Street Atlas. Connections with the TomTom Navigation Device and Technical Drawings

Unable to find the address of a party she was going to, in a 1919 Ordnance Survey Map, Phyllis Pearsall (1901 – 1996) decided to devise a more efficient way of helping herself and others to navigate the labyrinthine London streets. Working from her bedsit or studio on Horseferry Road near Victoria Station, before satellite imaging or extensive aerial photography, she set off early each morning to walk and catalogue the streets of the city. As London was so big, rather than produce a cumbersome map, which would be very hard to read as each street, bridge or building would be so small in scale, Pearsall decided to divide it into different sections, each of which would be coded in an index. She
walked a total of 3,000 miles while mapping London’s 23,000 streets. Completed in 1936 she met almost universal apathy from the book buying establishment and so formed the Geographer's A-Z Map Company and arranged to have 10,000 copies printed - completing all the proof-reading and design work herself.
Yet Pearsall never saw herself as a designer, but as an artist and travel writer who happened to have invented a successful design concept by chance. She rarely thought of the Atlas as anything other than a means to allow her to pursue a life of painting and writing.

Influences and Early Twentieth Century England
Early twentieth century saw the gradual establishment of a modern constitutional monarchy and was a time of great economic and industrial growth. “Faster” and “sooner” were the buzz words of the time. Everything was on the fast road to a new century until the Great War. For cartographers, there was opportunity in this chaos. Everybody wanted maps to stick little pins and flags to mark the battle lines, defeats, and victories while refugees and travelers wanted routes and escapes.

The Map
The London A-Z is a geographical, urban, street map with severe scale reduction. The maps show only planimetric distance and its symbols are exaggerated in size to ensure visibility. There are generalizations in the map that reflect judgments about the relative importance of mapable features and details. So in a street map, information that relate to streets and directions are enhanced and others displaced.
A map often has a point of view – mostly the cartographer’s.
Pearsall’s A to Z street atlas and gazetteer reflected her deep and rigorous process instilled through her life experiences, of collecting information and constructing it effectively with the sole intent of making London city legible for everyday life. The map works in reality. It abandoned any semblance of coherent urban structure in favor of presenting a legible coded surface. The streets are manipulated by smoothening and simplification. A calculated selection of information like post offices, hospitals, police and spaces pertaining to street navigation. Similar to the contents of a book, the opening page shows how to access categorized information quickly. It has important information to guide the navigation of the atlas including Contents, Reference, Publisher information and a Disclaimer. There is a definite focus point (originating point) of the atlas. The city is divided into rectangular zones which are numbered and correspond to the page number for further details. It is handy unlike the foldout map, but lacks the celebratory depiction of erstwhile monarchies with all their power and glory. It seems classless, devoid of hierarchies and hardly any depiction of the physical terrain. It could well be the map to any other city.

Relating the London A-Z to the TomTom – Navigation System
About TomTom
GPS originated as a military technology as a system of satellites launched by the U.S. Department of Defense in the early 1970s, that offered precise ground locations for both defensive and offensive purposes. GPS has now become a ubiquitous consumer technology available in cars, watches, and PDAs. The TomTom, just like the A-Z, reads the map through grids and keys. The start menu has information about language, systems, and voice choices. The main difference being the real time in which the TomTom functions as opposed to the A-Z which would have to be updated as the city grows. You can also map the physical navigation of the A-Z to the digital of the TomTom through the very same language of icons and legends, zooming in digitally as against physically in the former. A big difference would be the customizability of the map although a lot of your freedom, anonymity, simplicity is lost through this technology, perhaps nudging a militarization of the people. It also points out to our obsession of control and of the desire to know our location at all times. Is this leading to a different kind of imperialism or colonialism?

Relating London A-Z Map to Technical Drawings
About Technical Drawings
Drawing to communicate technical ideas may predate the written language. The oldest drawing instruments known, a drawing board inscripted with a temple plan, date from the 3rd millennium BC from the city of Lagash in Babylon. The ancient Greeks influenced drawing through their work in geometry, and tools such as the compass and triangles used in engineering were then developed
It is a coded language that helps engineers and users communicate complex product details for manufacturing. Dimensions, tolerances, thickness, materials, cross sections are some of the terms used. Each page has a table with keys and legends identifying the parts and the materials. The grid is used in both the A-Z and the Technical drawings to identify the location of the detail on the page. Technical drawings have a universal language which allows for a standard and global code for production.
Just like the A-Z atlas, the TomTom and the Technical drawing is a representation of a physical reality. Like any other representation, there is a loss in the translation of the sensation of form, experience, and ergonomics. A product is appreciated in its context and its interaction with the user. It is an intangible representation of a material out of its context. There is a discrepancy in its visualization but the drawing translates the image into reality through its data.
Map is a tool for data visualization but is as much ingrained and intermingled with reality.

A-Z London Street Atlas (Street Maps & Atlases). Null: Geographers' A-Z Map Co Ltd, 2002.
Hartley, Sarah. Mrs.P's Journey. New York: Pocket Books, 2002.
Kaplan, Caren. "GPS & Militarization." Project Muse.