In its first update in four years (June 2011), this website presents over one hundred prints of geographic depictions, showing regions from around the world in realistic hirez rendition. The style is faithful to a good map, and reassures us that our planet is knowable at an intimate level.
As we trace repeatedly the pathways of our daily lives, our habit is to think of the spaces around us as linear and routine. On trips to faraway places, we measure distance in travel time, often ignoring what we have actually driven through or flown over. We think we know the world we live in (we have a glut of digital information about it), but most of us perceive it only within a confined personal range. If we can feel – down deep – more at home in a broad way, perhaps our sense of self will improve, and we will approach one another with a fresh respect for our diversity.
Built up from elevation surfaces and often also satellite imagery, these prints are expansive enough to include very broad patterns, the trends that are rarely appreciated, yet are so detailed to let us peruse the curiosities and identity of even small portions. The collection shows the connectivity of Earth’s land – it is not intended as pure reference, nor as a medium for virtual visits such as with Google Earth. Pixel sizes range from 14 to 95 meters, and the edge-to-edge distances vary from 100 to 8000 km.
Choices of color have been tuned to emphasize the changes in elevation, while remaining faithful to the spirit of each place. Most often the graphic is purely an elevation surface with a custom palette and shadow effect, but nearly as often imagery is combined with shaded elevation to accentuate an area’s topography. In a few cases where the area is so flat, or so polar as to lack elevation data, the imagery is compiled with no other information.
Source data have come from NASA, the Global Land Cover Facility at the University of Maryland, and the CGIAR’s CSI archives. Some material also came from the Geo Community’s GIS Data Depot, the USGS Seamless Server, and Jonathan de Ferranti. All renderings are map true and usually in UTM projection. Please visit the Who and When section to follow links to each of the data sources.
Prints are made inhouse with an Epson 9800 wide format inkjet with archival inks (~100 yrs) on heavy matte paper, or at a Virginia printing service with a larger format capability. Framing uses Gatorfoam backing with simple frames. Options include plexiglass, hinge mounting, and in future, backlit film and a wide variety of alternative media.
On the gallery subpages, the size describes the smallest print for effective viewing, while the file size is for TIFF format with LZW compression. The number of images is left empty when the composition has only elevation data; otherwise it shows the number of mosaicked Landsat images. The gallery themes are an initial design for splitting up a collection which is too large to peruse in its entirety – modifications to the themes will be strongly influenced by reader feedback.
The search for loci was aided by the curiosity of the artist and his many collaborators, by the worldwide 150m Landsat mosaic distributed with ARCGIS software, and finally by the wealth of atlases – especially Palmer’s Complete Earth 2006 and the long line of Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World editions 10-12.
Abkhazia is the westmost province of Georgia, very near to Russia’s Sochi region where the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held. Here seen with south up, its combinations of fertile coastal areas with well-watered south-facing mountain slopes score high marks for environmental diversity and scenic impact.
The locals say that their God finished making the rest of the world and saved this part for himself, but took pity on those who had pleaded to let them have it. Ridges are bright from snow near the bottom edge, but the 4-5 massifs near the coast are white from open limestone rock plateaus. Alas, there is ongoing a protracted civil war – the province seeks independence much to the resistance of the central government in Tbilisi.