For this new project I wanted to design the fantasy map I always dreamed of. Over the last twenty years, in my work as a graphic designer and mapmaker, I have enjoyed reading numerous books on lost continents, mythological animals, phantom islands and cartographic errors. However, I have never found all those ingredients gathered in a single fantasy map. That’s why I decided to create “Lost Worlds”, a poster in which I have compiled some of the main details about lost continents, historical errors on famous maps, islands that once were believed to really exist, fantastic animals… The documentation work has been meticulous and, for the final design, I have chosen the cases that I consider to be the most representative. It is, in short, a map to feed our imagination and our dreams.
The ancient Romans were excellent engineers and architects, no doubt about that, and also good connoisseurs of the importance of urban planning. Naturally, to achieve proper control of The Eternal City, maps had to be available. Most of them have been lost, mainly because they were made on perishable materials, but here is a marvel in the form of a stone puzzle that can be considered as a gigantic map of the ancient Rome. The map is fragmented into a multitude of stone pieces, which complicates its reconstruction, that showed in detail all the streets and houses of the city.
Around the 16th century appeared the remains of the gigantic map, called Forma Urbis Romae, made up of more than a thousand fragments of what one day became a great map of 18 by 13 meters. It is true that these remains are only a small part of the complete map, but they are still a marvel. For centuries, attempts have been made to put the pieces of the puzzle together by hand, but the cost of the process meant that, with a little luck, two pieces could be joined every few years. To get the puzzle assembled once and for all, since 1999 Stanford University has decided to scan the pieces and use computer technology in the process. The results are available online: Stanford Digital Forma Urbis Romae Project.
I have just heard, as on so many occasions already, the Turangalîla-Symphonie by Olivier Messiaen. Many will not even have hear the name of this composer, one of the greatest masters of 20th century music, although this word (Turangalîla) will sound familiar to the followers of Futurama. Not for nothing did the writers of the animated series choose that name for the one-eyed heroine (Turanga Leela) in honour of this enigmatic symphony.
In short, the most outstanding aspect of this great symphony for those who listen to it for the first time is the perception of a “strange” sound, far from the conventional in terms of a classic symphony. I am not referring to his peculiar use of oriental-influenced timbres and rhythms. No, what most people are surprised about is the sound of the Ondes Martenot, a curious electric musical device that generates sound waves, initially similar to those of the Theremin, with a “phantasmagorical” air, as used in some movies of the 1950s.
The Ondes Martenot is an endearing musical instrument, created by Maurice Martenot in 1928, back in the “prehistory” of electronic music. Little by little it evolved to differentiate itself from the Theremin, with a wide range of registers that make this device a surprising invention, capable of achieving warm and attractive sounds, arising directly from its guts, populated by thermionic valves. I think it hasn’t been fully exploited yet, it’s not very well known, despite having been used in compositions by great masters, such as Messiaen, Boulez, Varèse, Honegger…
The best way to know a musical instrument is to listen to its sound. In the following videos, to finish this little note about the Ondes Martenot, I present you several examples with which you can check how it sounds… 😉
Representing the planet Earth on paper has always been problematic and, in fact, is one of the main problems that cartography has always faced. For centuries, hundreds of different methods have been devised for this work, through what are known as cartographic projections, i.e. ways of projecting a spherical surface onto a plane by drawing the the world on paper. This, which might at first seem like nonsense, is impossible, there is no “perfect map”, because there is no way to represent the shape and proportions of the earth’s surface on paper without introducing deformations of any kind. Now, if we are not so ambitious, and we take a small portion of the planet to make the map, then we can create quite accurate maps.
Jack van Wijk was thinking about this idea until he came up with a solution that convinced him: to divide the world into a thousand pieces! Thus was born his proposal of cartographic projection, which would be a set of many small maps (triangles) united in a very special way. Okay, the result is strange and “rough” looking, as if the world had turned into a hedgehog, but it’s an interesting proposition. This video explains the idea of the Miriahedral Projection (where “Miriahedral” would be a polyhedron with many faces, according to the term coined by Michiel Wijers).
That was almost ten years ago now. The proposal is more theoretical than practical (it is unlikely that such maps will become popular), but it is certainly an interesting idea with which to create attractive compositions. Basically, the method to construct this projection (mathematics apart), regardless of where we center the map, consists of projecting the globe in the form of a myriad of shapes, cutting out its triangles and extending the whole on a two-dimensional surface (images by Jack van Wijk).
This is a project that I developed some time ago and that I have just announced in Kickstarter. This is an infographic poster with a multitude of curiosities about our planet. Would you like to find out what it is? You have all the details here:
With this project you will not only have the opportunity to get the downloadable version of the poster for high quality printing, but if you don’t already have the 2018 version of Maptorian (my vector world maps collection), you can get it along with the poster.