Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

Spatial history & mapping

Posted on | October 20, 2016 | 1 Comment

I wanted to bring this up in class yesterday, but I’ll leave it here and maybe we could look at it next week.

Reading through Chapter 6: Narrative & Database of How We Think, it occurred to me that the difficulty of mapping a temporal dimension, especially one that is variable and emergent, may partially be due to the medium in addition to the limitations of relational databases. Mapping four or more dimensions onto a 2D plane (like a piece of paper or even a computer screen) is difficult. Of course, interactivity enables the data visualization designer to provide more options for navigating/revealing a database’s contents, but we’re always limited by the two dimensions that we have immediate access to.

It’s too bad that Hayles didn’t include an image of Minard’s 1869 map of Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812. It’s truly a remarkable example of map design. Edward Tufte has called it “probably the best statistical graphic ever drawn.” I’ve added it here for reference.

Minard, Napoleon's Russian Campaign of 1812, 1869
Minard, Napoleon’s Russian Campaign of 1812, 1869

Also, I wanted to bring attention to the work of data visualization designer Nicolas Felton. He has been creating “annual reports” based on data he has collected about his own life. A great example of personal, spatial mapping can be found here:

Nicolas Felton, 2011 Annual Report, 2011

See you next week!



One Response to “Spatial history & mapping”

  1. Mark
    October 24th, 2016 @ 4:51 am

    Thanks for this Dave! This is in line with my PhD research, in general, and my class project, in particular. I’ll be talking about this in the classes ahead, but I thought you might want to see how I’m mapping the database documentary with GIS:

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