It’s been a couple of years since we last checked in on Mark Powell (previously here and here), who produces ballpoint pen portraits and illustrations of birds and people on vintage envelopes. Recently Powell has expanded his practice to include old maps as another form of canvas, drawing detailed faces and bodies that are given texture by the haphazard roads and regions that comprise the United States or Paris.
Powell chooses to draw on paper with historical marks in order to imbue his works with a greater story, adding a deeper background to his subjects. “They compliment each other and I hope leads the viewer to wonder, and maybe create, a history for the two,” said Powell. “I rarely connect the portrait and ‘canvas’ as they are both strangers to me.”
Powell’s illustrations can take between a couple of hours and an entire month depending on the size of the surface and the detail given to his subjects. His upcoming exhibition, “Anthropology,” will open March 3 and run through April 10, 2016 at Hang-Up Gallery in London. You can see more of Powell’s drawings on his Facebook.
Trying to imagine the scope of the cosmos is nearly impossible, but musician and artist Pablo Carlos Budassi decided to make a visual attempt by cramming the entire known universe into a single image. Using scores of satellite images and photos snapped from NASA’s rovers, he painstakingly pieced together many of the prominent features of the universe as observed from our solar system in the form of a logarithmic map. Logarithms are useful for understanding large numbers or distances, so in Budassi’s map each consecutive ‘ring’ around the circle represents several orders of magnitude further than the one before it.
Budassi was aided by similar (though less visually stunning) logarithmic maps produced by astronomers at Princeton back in 2005. In this map, our sun and solar system are seen in the middle, followed by the Milky Way Galaxy, another ring of nearby galaxies like Andromeda, all the way out to cosmic radiation and plasma generated by the bing bang on the furthest outskirts of the image.
You can see a much larger version of the map here and read a bit more about it on Tech Insider. (via I F*cking Love Science)
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)
English artist Ed Fairburn (previously) uses vintage road maps and star charts as canvases for drawn portraits. Cross-hatched patterns and shaded regions inside roads, borders, and rivers assimilate into the contours of faces, as if the images had always been secretly hidden in the map’s topography. “In his hands, both built infrastructure and natural phenomena echo the organic human form,” shares Mike Wright Gallery. “National highway systems become capillaries, and the tangle of Paris’ alleyways become the wrinkles that give the face history and individuality.”
Fairburn opens a new show of work alongside artist John Wentz today at Mike Wright in Denver.
Barbara Wildenboer produces sculptures pieced together from delicately cut books, thin strips of paper splaying out from each book’s spine. Wildenboer’s found books are often ones containing maps, atlases, and scientific subject matter, sometimes using images from the book as central elements to her pieces. Imagery, words, and sentences become components of the larger designs, as she crafts new visual narratives from the raw material.
By producing visual metaphors, Wildenboer attempts to capture her own wonder of complex systems in nature like fractal geometry and the interconnectedness of all beings. She works across several academic disciplines to showcase how our understanding of life is often mediated through text, stretching the world of each book she manipulates outside of its own cover.
Wildenboer lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa, where she received her Masters in Fine Art from the Michaelis School of Art at the University of Cape Town in 2007. Her latest body of work, “The Lotus Eaters“, toured South Africa after opening at The Reservoir at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein in 2014. (via Colossal Submissions)
Rio de Janeiro
As part of a new exhibition in Venice that explores the relationship between cities and inhabitants, digital artist and illustrator Istvan (previously) created a series of city maps that seem to bleed into their surroundings. The works aren’t scientific by any means, but are meant as a representation of how cities might affect the local environment. The maps were created digitally and printed on large slabs of acrylic glass for display as part of Contemporary Venice through January 2015. You can see much more over on Behance.