Thursday, September 8, 2016

the alliance between cartography, technology and graphic design

This map by Venetian monk Fra Mauro (1450 ad) is one of the greatest memorials of medieval cartography.

Have you ever designed a map? You will confront the same problems of early moderns.

Here are five points of modern cartography (the science of making maps)

1- Map editing: Set the map's agenda and select traits of the object to be mapped. Traits may be physical, such as roads or land masses, or may be abstract, such as regions or political boundaries.
3- Map projection:  Represent the terrain of the mapped object on flat media (geodesics and projective geometries)
4- Map generalization: Eliminate characteristics of the mapped object that are not relevant to the map's purpose. Also, reduce the complexity of the characteristics that will be mapped.
5- Map design: Orchestrate the elements of the map to best convey its message to its audience.

Piris Reis map of the Mediterranean basin (17th century).
See there are no toponyms (regions, political divides). You only get topography (topos and rivers). This map is geared to an audience interested in topography.

Above, Henricus Hondius' World Map (1630): Exploration has changed the image of the world. Methods of circulating projection and projecting them on a flat surface with a minimum of distortion have been devised, notably by Gerard Merchator. Here you get the globe in two, equator, circumnavigation, etc. Pretty good modern globe map.

Ptolemy's map (above) devised and provided instructions on how to create maps both of the whole inhabited world (oikoumenè) and of the Roman provinces. Ptolemy was well aware that he knew about only a quarter of the globe, and an erroneous extension of China southward suggests his sources did not reach all the way to the Pacific Ocean.