Time to take a new look at our world?

The picture below is a map - Map: Exploring the World features 300 more, just as unusual, exciting and beautiful
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Mapping the Brain, 2014, Human Connectome Project  Digital, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging and Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Consortium of the Human Connectome Project. From Map
Mapping the Brain, 2014, Human Connectome Project Digital, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging and Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Consortium of the Human Connectome Project. From Map

There are not many things left that are able to make us change the way we look at our hyper saturated world. But we strongly suspect that you'll not look at it in quite the same way after reading our new book Map.

This big fat (352-page) title features 300 large-scale full-colour reproductions of maps from all periods and continents, exploring and revealing what these precious documents tell us about history and ourselves. The book reproduces all types of map from navigational charts and surveys to astronomical maps, satellite and digital maps, works of art inspired by cartography, as well as examples from the world’s most influential mapmakers and institutions, including Gerardus Mercator, Abraham Ortelius, Phyllis Pearsall, Heinrich Berann, Bill Rankin, Ordnance Survey and, of course, Google Earth. 

 

Human Mobility and the Spread of Ebola in West Africa, 2014, Flowminder Foundation Digital, dimensions variable. Flowminder Foundation and WorldPop project. From Map
Human Mobility and the Spread of Ebola in West Africa, 2014, Flowminder Foundation Digital, dimensions variable. Flowminder Foundation and WorldPop project. From Map

An expert panel of professionals, academics, map dealers and collectors drew up the selection of works. Viewed together, they represent 5,000 years of innovation, drawing on a wide range of cultures and traditions. And yes, there is a treasure map!

 

Hurricane Katrina Flooding Estimated Depths and Extent, 2005, NOAA/FEMA Colour-coded satellite image, dimensions variable. NOAA Central Library Historical Collection/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce. From Map
Hurricane Katrina Flooding Estimated Depths and Extent, 2005, NOAA/FEMA Colour-coded satellite image, dimensions variable. NOAA Central Library Historical Collection/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce. From Map

So why might this title reveal a reader’s own cartographic contribution? Well, as John Hessler, specialist in modern cartography at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, explains in our introduction, this book not only charts our changing conceptions of territories, but also humankind’s historical progress within that territory.

The ancient Egyptians used maps to plot land ownership after the annual flooding of the Nile; the Romans scored their newly conquered lands onto bronze tablets; and the Greeks plotted on vellum the limits of the known world.

While some maps confirmed a certain worldview, others undermined them. From the later Middle Ages, many Europeans set out to map the Christian cosmos as envisioned in the Bible, after new geographical discoveries rendered earlier maps patently unrealistic.

Maps changed too, with the increase in scientific knowledge. The revolutions brought about by pioneers such as Copernicus, Galileo and Isaac Newton can be seen in these pages, proving that, in many senses, maps are a visual expression of the coming of our modern technological age.

 

 

Map: Exploring the World
Map: Exploring the World

In this book there are maps of colonial expansion, such as Britain’s Great Trigonometrical Survey of India, one of the first to accurately measure the height of Mount Everest; there are maps of pop-cultural importance, such as Don Boggs’ 1937 Hollywood Starland map detailing where the stars, lived worked and played; and there are maps of artistic beauty, such as Katsushika Hokusai’s map of Shiogama and Matsushima in Oshu from 1840.

 

Death to Fascism, 1941, Vasilii Vlasov, Teodor Pevzner and Tatiana Vladimirovna Shishmareva. From Map
Death to Fascism, 1941, Vasilii Vlasov, Teodor Pevzner and Tatiana Vladimirovna Shishmareva. From Map

As a collection, this new book complements previous powerful survey titles on other subjects, such as The Photography Book, The Art Book, The Gardeners’ Garden and Phaidon Design Classics.

Yet, Map also captures the way in which static, paper maps began to be superseded in the 1970s with the introduction of computing, leading to the creation of a new era of digital mapping.

 

View of the World from 9th Avenue, 1976, Saul Steinberg Ink, pencil, coloured pencil and watercolour on paper, 71 x 48 cm / 28 x 19 in., private collection. From Map
View of the World from 9th Avenue, 1976, Saul Steinberg Ink, pencil, coloured pencil and watercolour on paper, 71 x 48 cm / 28 x 19 in., private collection. From Map

“Now anyone with a laptop, tablet or smartphone has access to largely free and open-source state-of-the-art software, geospatial data and mapping capability through Google Earth and other providers,” Hessler writes in his introduction.

Today maps but can capture real-time events, from the spread of the West African Ebola epidemic to the uptake and use of Twitter and Facebook.

 

Tweetping, 2013, Franck Ernewein Digital, dimensions variable. From Map
Tweetping, 2013, Franck Ernewein Digital, dimensions variable. From Map

If you’ve created a Minecraft world, contributed a review to Bing or Google Maps, or plotted a run or a cycle route, or a car journey, then you have taken part in this new era of map making. Catch a flight and your plane’s path is added to a map like Aaron Koblin’s 2005 digital map, Flight Patterns. And if you need to know the strength and direction of winds crossing the United States, and frankly why wouldn't you, there's a map for that too, courtesy of scientists Fernanda Bertini and Martin Wattenberg.

There’s even an on-going mapping to chart the connections within a human brain. “It might be argued that this is a neurological exercise rather than a cartographic one,” Hessler allows. “And yet what is its ultimate aim if not to create a graphic representation – a map – that will allow us to understand another part of our spatial world, albeit internal rather than external space?”

Map is not only a survey of an important side of our visual culture; it also places our everyday experiences within a dynamic, ever-changing practice. In this way, Map can be seen as is a cultural way finder, informing readers, after thousands of years of cartography, ‘You Are Here.’ 

You can pre-order Map here; the title will be shipped on 28 September; check back soon for more news on this great title.


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Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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