When considering the historical path of a river, it’s easy to imagine a torrential flood that causes a stream to overflow its banks, or a drought that brings a body of water to a trickle. The reality of a river’s history is vastly more complex, as the artery of water gradually changes directions over thousands of years, shifting its boundaries imperceptibly inch by inch.
Geologists and cartographers have grappled with helpful ways to visually depict a river’s flow over time. In 1941, the Mississippi River Commission appointed Harold Fisk to undertake a groundbreaking effort to map the entire Lower Mississippi Valley. Three years later he produced a stunning series of 15 maps that combine over 20 different river paths obtained through historical charts and aerial photography.
The beautiful map seen here of the Willamette River Historical Stream Channels in Oregon by cartographer Dan Coe also shows the history of a river, however Coe relied on more recent aerial radar technology called lidar. From The Oregonian:
Lidar data is collected by low-, slow-flying aircraft with equipment that shoots millions of laser points to the ground. When the data is studied, an amazingly accurate model of the ground can be mapped.
It is possible to strip buildings and vegetation from the images, so that only the ground is shown. In the Willamette River poster, the shades of white and blue show elevations. The purest white color is the baseline, (the zero point, at the lowest point near Independence on the upper part of the image). The darkest blue is 50 feet (or higher) than the baseline.
The shades of white show changes in elevation, between 0 to 50 feet. This brings out the changes made by the river channel in the last 12,000 to 15,000 years, in the time since the landscape was basically swept clean by the Missoula floods.
The map is usually available as a print through the Nature of the Northwest Information Center, however the site appears to be down at the moment. (via Feltron, The Oregonian)
The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People cleverly organizes the daily schedules of famous artists, philosophers, writers, and composers as recorded in their own diaries and letters. Not only does it show how they switched gears between creating, sleeping, and leisure time, but the chart is fully interactive including quotes from each individual. I would love to see a version of this with modern creatives (and more women) as well. (via Coudal)
Update: The information used to create the infographic comes from the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey.
Although the meaning behind these oil paintings by Atsushi Koyama is somewhat ambiguous, it’s easy to appreciate the exactness of his paintbrush that colorfully and elegantly depicts mechanical diagrams mixed with anatomical illustrations. Born in Tokyo, Koyama holds both a BFA in art from Tama Art University and a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Tokyo University of Science, so it’s no surprise to see a confluence of both backgrounds in his artwork. You can see more paintings from the last few years over at Frantic Gallery. (via Dark Silence in Suburbia, Hayden’s Magazine)
Artist and designer Eleanor Lutz has a special knack for science illustration. On her blog, Tabletop Whale, she recently shared this great series of admittedly non-scientific charts that deconstruct the wing patterns of birds and insects. After spreading across the web like wildfire the last few days she quickly turned it into a print available through Artsider. (via Kottke)
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Unfortunately I know very little about Korean artist Minjeong An (her website is currently down), but these are just a few of her incredibly complex self-portraits illustrated using some kind of information visualization. My guess is she’s using a mix of actual data, or a perceived translation of sensory input along with simply beautiful drawings. You can see a bit more on Prosthetic Knowledge and 50 Watts.
There’s been no shortage of dinosaur related stuff here lately, so why not round it out with this great short clip from Tal Moskovich who uses a Sam Neil voiceover from Jurassic Park to narrate some hilarious animated infographics. I’ve watched this three times and I’m still gigglin’ like piglet.
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I can’t get enough of Murilo Melo’s work apparently. These are two additional posters he designed for the World Wildlife Fund that show a dead tree and barren reef with their component wildlife removed and displayed alongside them asking you to imagine these ecosystems without plants and animals. Beautiful.