Posts Tagged ‘map

03
Oct
12

Maps for the Blind: From 1837 to today.

Recently a group of Maps.com representatives head to San Diego for the ESRI User Conference.

They absorbed a ton of information covering wide and varied topics in the mapping and spatial data arena. One of the main themes of the conference and a recurring one in Cartographic arenas is how we gather, process and present the amazing amounts of data now available via the internet. 3-D terrain data, publicly sourced cartographic data, Landsat imagery and collaborative imagery management are all topics that were discussed and reviewed at the event.

Using a tactile map

When creating maps for the blind, less is truly more. For a product to successfully convey spatial data it must be limited to the most vital information and avoid data ‘clutter’. This most disciplined branch of Cartography has actually been around for over 180 years and  is addressed in this recent Strange Maps article. Those with visual impairment and blindness are required to be more spatially aware than most of us as they negotiate the hazards of everyday life, but when it comes to the bigger picture cartography frequently comes up short in trying to deliver ‘the Google Maps’ experience to this audience.

In 1837 the New England Institute for the Blind published 50 copies of the ‘Atlas of the United States printed for the use of the Blind’. The maps are produced in a Braille-type print that embosses the various lines of the map for touch reading. The text was not produced in Braille (an alphabet consisting of raised dots in various configurations) but in standard Latin characters. The ocean is distinguished by horizontal cross-hatching and the major cities are identified using a key. There are 24 state maps which included numbers for latitude and longitude and illustrations for mountain ranges.

Each map is accompanied by a descriptive piece outlining points of note about the region covered, again using Latin characters as opposed to Braille.

Despite being a pioneering innovation, with such limited circulation it is difficult to regard the atlas as a major commercial success, however parallels can be drawn  with some of the innovations in contemporary cartography as we attempt to use our maps to solve very specific problems and address the difficulties of presenting complex data in a user friendly format. This atlas also represents the first instance of touch operated maps – an altogether more common attribute since the advent of the iPad.

Jump forward to today and there several approaches to providing mapping for the blind. A German project, The Look and Listen map, is attempting to crowd source data that we naturally absorb and process and adapt to as we walk down the street. For example locating street crossings that have tactile paving and sound or vibration alerts can be a vital part of safely negotiating a busy downtown. In France, researchers have used stereo cameras mounted on glasses to record and render 3D imagesthat are then translated through an electronic tactile device that instantly produces embossed maps similar to the ones Lowe produced, but with greater detail and accuracy.

Maine Map for Blind Readers

Map of Maine, S. Howe 1837. C. David Rumsey Collection

“The ability to wander around and get  lost on a map is so much better than getting lost in real life” said Josh Miele, a scientist at the Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, himself blind, in an interview with NPR. The maps they have developed are printed by the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco using an automated version of Lowe’s embossing process, which enable blind people to build up a strong cognitive understanding of an area before they have visited it.

The report reveals a change in the attitudes of cognitive scientists who have long believed that blind people could never understand maps because they are visual representations of spatial concepts. While tools such as the Trekker Breeze – a GPS device that gives voice prompts regarding current locations, intersections etc offer a detailed view of immediate surroundings, tactile maps give a much broader relational view of an area. Interestingly the concept of all maps being a ‘spatial’ tool as much as a visual tool is reinforced when one considers the pros and cons of the Breeze-type device versus the Braille print version.

Smith Kettlewell have been attempting to bridge the gap with its Audio Tactile maps which include a detailed audio component activated when using a tactile map. They have produced a version for the BART stations in San Francisco including street, concourse and platform maps for each station.

Much more of the atlas can be viewed here in the David Rumsey collection.

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19
Aug
11

art that takes you places

Matthew Cusick’s art has a hidden side. Get close up and you will see that he has created these wonderful collages from recycled maps.

Using topography, street lines, shading and borders he creates meticulously detailed works that make stunning viewing. The subject matter varies, from horses, to waves and freeway interchanges. A graduate of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art, Matthew resides in Dallas, TX. His work has shown across the world including numerous exhibition in his birthplace, New York City.

He gave this interview to Alice’s Blog at My Modern Met in March of 2011.

What got you into creating portraits and landscapes with maps?
About nine years ago, frustrated with paint and brushes, I just started experimenting with some maps I had laying around the studio. I found that maps have all the properties of a brushstroke: nuance, density, line, movement, and color. Their palette is deliberate and symbolic, acting as a cognitive mechanism to help us internalize the external. And furthermore, since each map fragment is an index of a specific place and time, I could combine fragments from different maps and construct geographical timelines within my paintings.

Maps provided so much potential, so many layers. I put away my brushes and decided to see where the maps would take me. I think collage is a medium perfectly suited to the complexities of our time. It speaks to a society that is over-saturated with disparate visual information. It attempts to put order to the clutter and to make something permanent from the waste of the temporary. A collage is also a time capsule; it preserves the ephemera of the past. It reconstitutes things that have been discarded. A collage must rely on a kind of alchemy; it must combine ordinary elements into something extraordinary.

How long does one piece take?
It is hard to say exactly. I never keep track of the hours. I’ll work on a piece for two or three weeks and then put it aside and start a new one. To really understand what is going on in one piece I need to be working on another. I’ll usually have at least two or three in rotation. I just finished a sixteen-foot wave commission that I’ve been working on for a year. Normally, a four-by-six foot piece takes about three months to complete. The smaller ones can take three to six weeks. The portraits are the most difficult, no matter what size. Sometimes I scrape off all the maps and start over again, and some subjects I work and re-work for years.

How much paint do you use on top of the maps?
I never paint on the maps. I let the maps be themselves and they establish the palette for me. Sometimes there will be an underpainting that is revealed when I scrape off maps that aren’t working. These areas are never planned though, just happy accidents. I do often paint the sky of a composition a single flat color.

If I need to manipulate the values of the maps in order to achieve richer darks, I use ink, mostly walnut ink that I make myself. This way I am not really adding a new medium to the map, only increasing one that is already there—the ink.

What’s your creative process like? What dictates who or what you’ll create next?
I am always thinking about new creations. Usually my best ideas come to me as I’m working on something else or just keeping busy in the studio. Whenever they come I jot them down in a notebook. Then, when I am ready to start something new I look through these notebooks. There are deadlines, and commissions, and sometimes these can lead to your best work as well, but my creative process is very unpredictable. I typically don’t commit myself to anything but the few pieces that have made it from my notebook to hanging in my studio as works in progress. The next pieces are determined by the outcome of the ones that proceeded them.

How has the internet helped you with your career?
My work has traveled very little outside of the United States. The internet has enabled people from all over the world to see my work. Yet they are still only seeing the digital reproductions. Even so, it is a wonderful thing to know that the work is being seen and admired globally.

Many Rivers

Horse

Geronimo

Related Articles -:

http://www.magicalurbanism.com/archives/3993

http://www.odditycentral.com/pics/the-incredible-map-collages-of-matthew-cusick.html

http://www.indoek.com/archives/4098

http://creativemapping.blogspot.com/2007/05/matthew-cusick-map-art-car-travel.html

30
Jun
10

Congo Turns 50

The Democratic Republic of the Congo celebrates its 50th year of independence from Belgium today.

Independence for this resource, environmental and culturally-rich nation has been a rocky one to say the least. The short history of the country has been marred by civil war, dictatorship, poverty, corruption, and exploitation and meddling by outside powers (and tragically the country has been described as the ‘Rape Capital of the World’). A recent commitment of $9 Billion from China for the development of infrastructure, schools and hospitals holds the hope of dramatic improvements in a country the size of Western Europe, where there are less than 300 miles of paves roads, electricity is unreliable and access to telephones and postal service is worse that at the time of independence. Still some are also concerned about the access and control this investment will afford China.

Dem. Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo

We wish the best and brightest future to the Congo and its people on this, their 50th anniversary of independence. Source: NPR

Democratic Republic of the  Congo Facts

Population -: 68,692,542

GDP Distribution -: agriculture: 55%  industry: 11%  services: 34% (2000 est.)

Ethnic Groups -: Over 200 African ethnic groups of which the majority are Bantu; the four largest tribes – Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic) make up about 45% of the population

Religions -: Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other (includes syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs) 10%

Languages -: French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba

Capital -: Kinshasa

Time Zone -: UTC+1

15
Mar
10

Let me sleep on it.

A cartographer’s dream.

That’s one way of describing our latest map format – the MAP PILLOW!

Who knew you could fall asleep on the North American Continent, but wake up on the island of Madagascar.

Now you can have your route map, sales territories, store locations, ports of call, flight paths or delivery routes applied to one of these super 14 x 16 pillows.

Printed in full color, the pillows are filled with a non-allergenic polyester fiber that can be fully machine washed. The pillows are durable and come vacuum packed, saving considerable space. Separate printing of each side means you can have dual images – for example a world map on one side and a local map on the other. Like all of our custom maps you can have exactly what YOU want.

If you are looking for a great geo-gift or promotional item, try new map pillows from Maps.com, and if you can’t decide, we suggest you sleep on it.

Pillows




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