Cross-Sections of Geological Formations and Views of the Cosmos Bring the World to Life in 19th Century Educational Charts
In 1887 Levi Walter Yaggy published the Geographical Portfolio – Comprising Physical, Political, Geological, and Astronomical Geography with his publishing company, Western Publishing House of Chicago. The popular set of maps and charts (an expanded second edition was released six years later) was intended for teachers to use in classroom settings. The two by three-foot sheets used clever composite images to convey the range of topography and animals around the world, resulting in dense caves and steep mountain peaks that could be straight out of a fantasy novel.
In addition to their imaginative designs and eye-catching color palettes, Yaggy made strides in the teaching aid field by incorporating interactive elements. Each set included a 3-dimensional relief map of the United States and latches revealed hidden diagrams on individual charts. Unfortunately, despite his forward-thinking designs, Yaggy did include the era’s all-too-common racist depictions of non-white populations on some of his cultural maps.
You can explore the full range of Yaggy’s Geographical Portfolio via digital scans on David Rumsey’s map website (where they are available as on-demand prints and as high-resolution downloads), and learn more about the charts on National Geographic. (via this isn’t happiness)
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Thibaud Poirier (previously) travels the world photographing the architectural spaces that surround us as we live, sleep, study, and pray. In his most recent series, the French photographer captured the interiors of 29 modern churches across Germany, The Netherlands, France, Denmark, and Japan to see how each city has designed structures of worship within the last century. In Sacred Spaces, Poirier uses the same focal point in each image. The stylistic choice makes it easier to compare the similarities of basic structures such as seating and pulpit placement, while contrasting the differences in interior design choices such as lighting and color palettes. You can see more modern churches from the series on his website, Instagram, and Behance.
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The innovative yet timeless drawings of Leonardo da Vinci will soon be arriving in mailboxes around the U.K., thanks for a special stamp release marking the quincentennial anniversary of the Italian artist’s death. In tandem with the special stamp edition, twelve cultural institutions throughout the United Kingdom will be showcasing a total of 144 of da Vinci’s works in the dispersed show Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing. The exhibitions opened at the beginning of February and are on view through May 6, 2019 in Glasgow, Cardiff, Bristol, Leeds, and other U.K. cities. Stamp sets are available from Royal Mail. (via artnet)
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In 2016 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that 2019 would be the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The declaration’s goal was to raise awareness for disappearing language systems around the world, while mobilizing a coordinated global effort to help preserve them. At the time of the meeting it was estimated that 40% of the world’s 6,700 languages were at risk of disappearing. This threatens the history of the associated cultures, while also erasing thousands of years of knowledge systems valuable for protecting the environment, peace making, and national resource development.
The Endangered Alphabets Project is a Vermont-based nonprofit organization that supports endangered, minority, and indigenous cultures by helping to preserve their writing systems. For the past six years they have researched and compiled information on endangered languages, exhibited artwork using the cultures’ sayings, proverbs, and spiritual texts, and partnered with organizations to publish educational materials and games in endangered languages. Through their research they have also created an interactive website that tracks these languages across the globe. The Atlas of Endangered Alphabets is a clickable map compiled from languages across the world. Many of these scripts do not have an official status in their country, state, or province, and are not taught in government-funded schools.
“My goal is to include scripts from indigenous and minority cultures who are in danger of losing their sense of history, identity, and purpose and who are trying to protect, preserve and/or revive their writing system as a way of reconnecting to their past, their dignity, their sense of a way ahead,” explained Tim Brookes, the founder and president of the Endangered Alphabets Project. “A traditional script is a visual reminder of a people’s identity—as we can tell by the number of cultures that continue to use their script as an emblem (on printed invitations, on shop fronts, even on the national flag) long after most people have stopped using it for everyday purposes.”
As a general rule, the atlas is guided by Article 13 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which says: “Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.” The project is therefore not necessarily about the language, but about the people that speak and continue to carry these writing systems as tradition.
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When he’s not working as a web designer, Nicholas Rougeux delights in interpreting data visually. His latest creation is a celebration of Byrne’s Euclid. The book, created in 1847 by Irish engineer Oliver Byrne is fully titled The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid in which Coloured Diagrams and Symbols are Used Instead of Letters for the Greater Ease of Learners. It illustrated parts of Euclid’s Elements, which the Greek mathematician is credited with writing in 300 B.C. The thirteen-book collection established geometry, number theory, and other core concepts still in use today.
For Rougeux’s version, the designer carefully reproduced each colorful, eye-catching design with geometric accuracy, and arranged and labeled them as they appear in Byrne’s book within the framework of a scaleable poster. The poster can be ordered in a variety of sizes via Rougeux’s website.
You can learn more here about Rougeaux’s painstaking process of translating the 172-year-old book into a contemporary print. See more of the Chicago-based designer’s data-driven creations, ranging from weather portraits of U.S. cities to an interpretation of Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, on Behance.
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Matt Baker of Useful Charts creates helpful visual guides that condense hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of years of history into streamlined flowcharts. His poster Evolution of the Alphabet looks at nearly 3,800 years of the alphabet’s evolution, tracing it from Egyptian hieroglyphs (c. 1750 BCE) through Phoenician, early Greek and Latin, and finally to the present forms we use today. The limited edition print shows that some letters have appeared relatively the same for millennia, while others, like U, V, and W, developed much closer to our own time period from a single character.
The design was created in association with his Writing Systems of the World chart which takes a look at 51 different writing systems from around the world. Baker has each of these prints for sale on his website and Etsy. You can listen to his explain these systems, and their evolution in greater detail in his video “History of the Alphabet” below and view more timelines of historical developments on his website, Youtube, and Instagram. (via Kottke)
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Scott Reinhard combines contemporary land elevations with historic maps to create three-dimensional environments of a specific region, city, or state. To produce the digital maps, he pulls elevation data from the United States Geological Survey, which he then embeds with location information and merges with the original design of the old maps.
Producing these hybrids allows the Brooklyn-based graphic designer to gain a better sense of the topography found in large areas without aerial photography, while also developing a story from the cartographic information. He often selects locations he has personally visited or is generally curious about for his digitally produced works. “I am from Indiana, which always felt so flat and boring,” he explains to Colossal. “When I began rendering the elevation data for the state, the story of the land emerged. The glaciers that receded across the northern half of the state after the last ice age scraped and gouged and shaped the land in a way that is spectacularly clear.”
By visualizing the history that shaped a location’s composition at a large scale, Reinhard is able to notice trends in the environment in a more localized way. These forces affect how we traverse our daily environments, but are hard to comprehend without taking the time to zoom out, or look at from above. “As a visual person, I was most intrigued by the ability to visually harness data and create images that helped me gain insight into locations,” he continues. “I felt empowered by the ability to collect and process the vast amounts of information freely available, and create beautiful images.”
Reinhard was introduced to the methods he uses in his digital maps through Daniel Huffman’s website Something About Maps. You can see more of Reinhard’s digital works on Instagram and buy select high-quality prints, on his website. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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Editor's Picks: History
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.