from the David Rumsey Map collection
old zodiac map, Holland
What is a map? We take them for granted and consider them to be the truth. However, the are created by humans to add order to the world. They show us imaginary places and are used as political tools of power. Early maps show unusual shapes, forms and creatures based on stories myths and legends. Watch the BBC documentaries from their Map season here.
Andreas Cellarius Palatinus published his Atlas Coelestis seu Harmonica Macrocosmica 1661 in Amsterdam. The 29 charts hand-coloured maps are probably the most artistic renditions of the scientific ideas of his time about the planetary system. This map is an illustration of the Ptolemaic system. The Earth, the centre of the planetary system, is shown in great detail, with the North Pole in the centre, America in the upper half and Europe and Africa in the lower half. A silver chariot on a silver-white circle indicates the path of the Moon, a golden chariot on a golden circle the path of the Sun. The planets are found on the remaining circles.
Detail from the Tabula Peutingeriana showing Rome on the right, represented by a crowned figure on a throne
The parchment scroll, made in the Middle Ages, is the only surviving copy of a road map from the late Roman Empire. The document, which is almost seven metres long, shows the network of main Roman roads from Spain to India.At first sight, it looks very unlike a modern map. Both the landmass and the seas have been stretched and flattened. The Mediterranean has been reduced to a thin strip of water, more like a river than a sea.
Langlands & Bell, ‘The House of Osama Bin Laden”
Air Routes of the World (Day & Night) - Langlands & Bell 2001
Langlands and Bell are a pair of artists who have been collaborating since 1979. They are interested in how people interact with their surroundings and the environments they create. They use a variety of media from sculpture to digital works. They have taken plans of buildings and recreated them with any labels removed. Langlands and Bell have also made prints based on the routes airplanes have taken and presented them in a simple graphic form. By removing the labels associated with these plans they have created pieces with a simple, ambiguous, minimal beauty.
Richard Long, 'A Line Made By Walking', 1967
Part performance art, part sculpture, part photography - Richard long has made art from walking through a field. He has drawn into the grass and left a trace of his journey and this photograph is the only trace of that mark
George W Hales 'Vapour Trails'
Like Richard Longs image we can see traces, marks and stains all around us and photography is the perfect medium to capture these ephemeral events.
An old anatomical illustration of a horse
A sketch of a toy horse
Anatomical maps of humans and animals map our insides. Like with maps what is depicted changes with the knowledge of the society and culture that produced them. Diagrams have a strange beauty about them especially when taken from their original origins.