Artist Re-Envisions National Parks in the Style of Tolkien’s Middle Earth Maps

J.R.R. Tolkien imagined Middle-Earth by drawing not just from far-flung lands and old myths but the English landscape all around him. Of course, everyone who reads The Lord of the Rings trilogy, let alone the related books written by Tolkien as well as his followers, has their own way of envisioning the place, and those who go especially deep may even start seeing their own, real environments as versions of Middle-Earth. That seems to have happened in the case of Dan Bell, an English artist who maps his homeland's national parks in an artistic style similar to the one in which Tolkien rendered Middle-Earth.

Bell "began reading Tolkien’s books when he was 11 or 12 years old, and fell in love with them," writes The Verge's Andrew Liptak. "In particular, he was struck by Tolkien’s maps." To start, he "works from an open source Ordnance Survey map, and begins drawing by hand," adding in such additional details, not always found in most national parks, as "forests, Hobbit holes, towers, and castles." Having so adapted the national parks of the United Kindgom "as well as places like Oxford, London, Yellowstone National Park, and George R.R. Martin’s Westeros," he's made them available for purchase on his site.

Most of us who first encounter The Lord of the Rings at the age Bell did have surely wished, if only for a moment or two, that we could live in Middle-Earth ourselves. Bell's maps remind us that places like Middle-Earth always come in some way from, and resonate on some level with, the real Earth on which we have no choice but to live. Much like how the settings of science fiction stories, no matter how technologically amplified or culturally twisted and turned, always reflect the time of the story's composition, thoroughly realized fantasy realms, no matter how fantastical — how many hobbit-holes, castles, or Eyes of Sauron with which they may be dotted — are never 100 percent made up. Just ask the tourist industry of New Zealand.

Enter Bell's map collection here.

via The Verge

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

A Map Shows What Happens When Our World Gets Four Degrees Warmer: The Colorado River Dries Up, Antarctica Urbanizes, Polynesia Vanishes

Humanity faces few larger questions than what, exactly, to do about climate change — and, in a sense larger still, what climate change even means. We've all heard a variety of different future scenarios laid out, each of them based on different data. But data can only make so much of an impact unless translated into a form with which the imagination can readily engage: a visual form, for instance, and few visual forms come more tried and true than the map.

And so "leading global strategist, world traveler, and best-selling author" Parag Khanna has created the map you see above (view in a larger format here), which shows us the state of our world when it gets just four degrees celsius warmer. "Micronesia is gone – sunk beneath the waves," writes Big Think's Frank Jacobs in an examination of Khanna's map. "Pakistan and South India have been abandoned. And Europe is slowly turning into a desert."




But "there is also good news: Western Antarctica is no longer icy and uninhabitable. Smart cities thrive in newly green and pleasant lands. And Northern Canada, Scandinavia, and Siberia produce bountiful harvests to feed the hundreds of millions of climate refugees who now call those regions home."

Not quite as apocalyptic a climate-change vision as some, to be sure, but it still offers plenty of considerations to trouble us. Lands in light green, according to the map's color scheme, will remain or turn into "food-growing zones" and "compact high-rise cities." Yellow indicates "uninhabitable desert," brown areas "uninhabitable due to floods, drought, or extreme weather." In dark green appear lands with "potential for reforestation," and in red those places that rising sea levels have rendered utterly lost.

Those last include the edges of many countries in Asia (and all of Polynesia), as well as the area where the southeast of the United States meets the northeast of Mexico and the north and south coasts of South America. But if you've ever wanted to live in Antarctica, you won't have to move into a research base: within a couple of decades, according to Khanna's data, that most mysterious continent could become unrecognizable and "densely populated with high-rise cities," presumably with their own hipster quarters. But where best to grow the ingredients for its avocado toast?

Anyone interested in Parag Khanna's map will want to check out his book, Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization.

via Big Think

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch the Making of the Dymaxion Globe: A 3-D Rendering of Buckminster Fuller’s Revolutionary Map

Last year, we shined a light on Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Map. Unveiled back in 1943, the Dymaxion Map (shown below) revolutionized map design, allowing us to see our world in an entirely new way. As the Buckminster Fuller Institute describes it:

Also known as the "Dymaxion Map," the Fuller Projection Map is the only flat map of the entire surface of the Earth which reveals our planet as one island in one ocean, without any visually obvious distortion of the relative shapes and sizes of the land areas, and without splitting any continents.

Fuller's map has since inspired the award-winning AuthaGraph World Map, created by Japanese architect and artist Hajime Narukawa. And it led robotics engineer Gavin Smith to fashion The Dymaxion Globe, essentially by dividing the Dymaxion Map into triangles and and folding them into a three-dimensional figure. Smith explains the process of making a Dymaxion Globe over at Make Magazine. But above, you can watch it all happen in a video produced by Adam Savage's Tested YouTube channel. They walk you through the creation of a laser-cut Dymaxion Globe. Enjoy.

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A Map Shows Where Today’s Countries Would Be Located on Pangea

The supercontinent of Pangea formed some 270 million years ago, during the Early Permian Period, and then began to break up 70 million years later, eventually yielding the continents we inhabit today. Pangea was, of course, a peopleless place. But if you were to drop today's nations on that great land mass, here's what it might look like. (Click here to view it in a much larger, high resolution format.) The map's creator is Massimo Pietrobon, someone who playfully describes himself as "a famous explorer and cartographer of Atlantis," and who has taken on other experiments with maps in the past. When someone claimed that the scale of certain countries wasn't exactly right, Massimo was quick to confess on his blog, "Yes, it's just a trial, it can be better." But it's a creative start.

Note: An earlier version of this post originally appeared on our site in July, 2014.

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The Largest Early Map of the World Gets Assembled for the First Time: See the Huge, Detailed & Fantastical World Map from 1587

We in the early 21st century can call up detailed maps of almost any place on Earth with little more effort than typing its name. Most of us can dimly recall a time when it wasn't quite so easy, but imagine trying to satisfy your geographical curiosity in not just decades but centuries past. For the 16th-century Milanese gentleman scholar Urbano Monte, figuring out what the whole world looked like turned into an enormous project, in terms of both effort and sheer size. In 1587, he created his "planisphere" map as a 60-page manuscript, and only now have researchers assembled it into a single piece, ten feet square, the largest known early map of the world. View it above, or in a larger format here.

"Monte appears to have been quite geo-savvy for his day," writes National Geographic's Greg Miller, noting that "he included recent discoveries of his time, such as the islands of Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America, first sighted by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1520," as well as an uncommonly detailed Japan based on information gathered from a visit with the first official Japanese delegation to Europe in 1585.




And in accordance with the mapmaking style of the time, he got more fanciful in the less-understood spaces: "Animals roam the land, and his oceans teem with ships and monsters. King Philip II of Spain rides what looks like a floating throne off the coast of South America, a nod to Spanish prominence on the high seas."

 

"Monte's map reminds us of why historical maps are so important as primary resources," says Stanford University's David Rumsey Map Collection, which holds one of only three extant versions of the map and which conducted the digital project of scanning each of its pages and assembling them into a whole. Not only does its then-unusual (but now long standard in aviation) north polar azimuthal projection show Monte's use of "the advanced scientific ideas of his time," but the "the artistry in drawing and decorating the map embodies design at the highest level; and the view of the world then gives us a deep historical resource with the listing of places, the shape of spaces, and the commentary interwoven into the map."

You can see/download Monte's planisphere in detail at the David Rumsey Map Collection, both as a collection of individual pages and as a fully assembled world map. There you can also read, in PDF form, cartographic historian Dr. Katherine Parker's "A Mind at Work: Urbano Monte's 60-Sheet Manuscript World Map." And to bring this marvel of 16th-century cartography around to a connection with a marvel of 21st-century cartography, they've also taken Monte's planisphere and made it into a three-dimensional model in Google Earth, a mapping tool that Monte could scarcely have imagined — even though, as a close look at his work reveals, he certainly didn't lack imagination.

via Hyperallergic

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The London Time Machine: Interactive Map Lets You Compare Modern London, to the London Shortly After the Great Fire of 1666

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From ESRI, the maker of geographic software, comes the London Time Machine, an interactive map that lets you see how London has changed over the past 330+ years, moving from a city left in ruins by the Great Fire of 1666, to the sprawling metropolis that it is today. Here's how ESRI describes the map:

On Sunday the 2nd of September 1666, the Great Fire of London began reducing most of the capital to ashes. Among the devastation and the losses were many maps of the city itself.

The Morgan Map of 1682 was the first to show the whole of the City of London after the fire. Produced by William Morgan and his dedicated team of Surveyors and Cartographers it took 6 years to produce, and displayed a brighter perspective on city life for a population still mourning their loved ones, possessions, and homes.

But how much of this symbolised vision of a hoped-for ideal city remains today? What now lies on the lush green fields to the south of the river Thames? And how have the river's banks been eaten into by the insatiable appetite of urban development? Move the spyglass to find out, and remember to zoom-in to fully interrogate finer details!

Enter the London Time Machine here.

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via Hacker News

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Watch the History of the World Unfold on an Animated Map: From 200,000 BCE to Today

"Where are you from?" a character at one point asks Babe, the hapless protagonist of the Firesign Theatre's classic comedy album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All. "Nairobi, ma'am," Babe replies. "Isn't everybody?" Like most of that psychedelic radio troupe's pieces of apparent nonsense, that memorable line contains a truth: trace human history back far enough and you inevitably end up in east Africa, a point illustrated in reverse by the video above, "A History of the World: Every Year," which traces the march of humanity between 200,000 BCE and the modern day.

To a dramatic soundtrack which opens and closes with the music of Hans Zimmer, video creator Ollie Bye charts mankind's progress out of Africa and, ultimately, into every corner of all the continents of the world.




Real, documented settlements, cities, empires, and entire civilizations rise and fall as they would in a computer game, with a constantly updated global population count and list of the civilizations active in the current year as well as occasional notes about politics and diplomacy, society and culture, and inventions and discoveries.

All that happens in under 20 minutes, a pretty swift clip, though not until the very end does the world take the political shape we know today, including even the late latecomer to civilization that is the United States of America. Bye's many other videos tend to focus on the history of other parts of the world, such as India, the British Isles, and that cradle of our species, the African continent, all of which we can now develop first-hand familiarity with in this age of unprecedented human mobility. Though the condition itself takes the question "Where are you from?" to a degree of complication unknown not only millennia but also centuries and even decades ago, at least now you have a snappy answer at the ready.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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