Tracing papers

The strangely neglected no man’s land that sits between maps as things to cherish, pore over and squint at, and maps as pure information is yet to be addressed, let alone synthesised and exploited. The internet has some very welcome cartographical corners apart from the usual mapsets offered by the big players. Sites like Amazing Maps, Strange Maps and The Map Room demonstrate a hunger for the memories and arcana embodied in old maps. See also a Vision of Britain through Time (via me-fi). These sites all speak of maps that blend of time and space, their existence charting journeys remembered or as yet untaken. The slowly unspooling movie of Google Streetview (now slowly emerging online as 360 degree videos has fascination but not experience.

This will come. SwissCheese&Bullets recently spoke to Nicholas Felton, that mix of information design obsessive and Nicholson Baker-style detail fetishist. Felton’s Annual Reports are well known, and he also helped launch Daytum, a personal tracking service that joins the myriad sites and apps out there to catalogue and chronicle and chart your life.

What has this got to do with mapping? Somewhere between GPS drawing, open source maps, scanned ephemera, pocket Google Earth, maps drawn from memory and maps drawn by children there is an application, a sketchbook that allows us to fill up our world and experience and let other data leak in as and when we see fit. Projects like Herb Lester Associates‘ ‘You Are Here: The best places to meet and work in London’ go some way towards illustrating a mix of experience, memory and data.


Household, which also has a blog, Everyday at Household / The What Where When, ‘A guide to London’s less celebrated creative events’ / exploding brochure mythology at Hotel Photo fakeouts, via Kottke / memories of floppy disks / related, the Obsolete Technology Website / very nicely done, the Consollection / a list of common misconceptions / on the art and quiet subversion of David Gentleman. Artworks here. We especially like the Fortifications series / Beautiful Brutes, an architectural slideshow / see also the landscapes of video games, such as this pixel for pixel map of Sabre Wulf, every pixellated frond of which is still fresh in our memory. See also Gamestage, which promises more 8-bit maps in the weeks to come.

Quick update: Google Earth View comes to Google Maps. A welcome innovation.

One Man’s Trash, a review of Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. ‘People justify hoarding as curating and recycling, deeming odd objects beautiful and useful. Sometimes they act as if history were at stake…. the [authors] suggest that hoarders may “inherit an intense perceptual sensitivity to visual details,” and speculate about “a special form of creativity and an appreciation for the aesthetics of everyday things… As many as 90 percent of children collect something, Frost and Steketee report, and two-thirds of American households include a collector.” See also the author interview, “Stuff”: The psychology of hoarding.


A blog about bookshelves, the blog on the bookshelf (via Coudal / Torus, a game by Ben Joffe / all you need to know about Lost / Lunarized, a tumblr / photography by Christoffer Rudquist / Polis, ‘a collaborative blog on urbanism with a global focus’ / The Field Worker, a tumblr / worth looking at, every now again, perhaps for ever: 25 Years of the Brown Sisters and New Work, by Nicholas Nixon (memory jog by The Silver Lining) / we love this sort of thing: Similarities, a flickr stream (via Eye Blog / printmaking by Mireille Fauchon.


Monika Magazine, ‘an arts journal that does away with bylines. As respite from the exhaustive branding of conventional media, contributors adopt a disguise that enables them to experiment with new material or style, to bypass expectation and to play’ / Babies suck: The twisted history of pacifiers: ‘”Remember that a baby that has a dummy is like a tiger that has tasted blood,” an English health pamphlet warned’ / The Guesthouse Project by Hannah Rae Alton.

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2 Responses to Tracing papers

  1. MP says:

    Interesting point about the maps-as-art/maps-as-information dichotomy. In general there has also been a lack of discussion about the nature of architectural renders. Actually, Millennium People is starting its own print house in September (Speculative Publications, because a print house in these times is a hiiighly speculative financial venture) and the second title is “Minds that wander through images” discussing exactly these issues.


    P.S. You’re favicon has dropped off since you migrated to WP.

    • things says:

      Looking forward to seeing the launch of the publishing house. Our print issue is lost in the void, somewhat. It’s there, somewhere between computer and press. But just not there yet.

      Not sure what the favicon deal is. And the links are slowly being updated too…

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