Cartography as a result of discovery

So, I chose to use the scroll as my book form. I did this because this was one of the book forms that was actually within my ability to construct last week, but I also did so because of the topic. When I heard that we were to write to the theme “Lost,” the first thing that popped into my mind was a map, because a map is what you use when you’re lost. I first looked on the internet for pictures of antique maps. I figured I would stick with something older because in my mind, the scroll itself is an ancient form of a book, so I wanted the content to fit the material. I then printed the old map that I liked the best, and bought papyrus-looking type paper ( I wanted a softer paper than the one we had used in class so that I could fold it easier). Once I had the right kind of paper, I traced the map onto it, and what I couldn’t trace, I free-handed. I then wrote the year 1492 because it reminded me of Columbus’s misguided journey to India, but “discovery” of America. I then burnt the edges of the paper to give it a worn, weathered look, like how an actual scroll or antique map would appear. I added a bit of my own personality to the scroll by writing in a silly “how to” reference as to how to read the map, but I intentionally made it difficult to read because that’s how the key was on the representation of the map that I found. I also chose a blue, glittery ribbon to give the scroll a more personal touch.

I enjoyed this project for a few reasons. One, somewhat shallow reason is because I’ve always thought antique maps are fascinating (I even had a calendar of them at one point). I minored in History in undergrad, so I love seeing the transformation of countries/regions overtime, and considering the work that the cartographer put into making the map, and even thinking about things like why a country or a continent may look what we know today to be extremely disproportionate and how that’s informative of the cartographers skill, worldview, funding, etc. The reason I picked the year 1492 was because of the impact of Columbus’s blunder. Our life would not be what it is today if Columbus hadn’t taken the risk that he did (in trying a new route to India). And we all know that sometimes, you have to take risks, try, and even fail to make a new, sometimes world-altering discovery. So while I’m sure that Columbus and his men may have hated the journey they took, the fact that they took it and that they were, in a sense, lost, opened up an entire new world of possibilities for everyone. This is getting really sentimental and didactic, so I’ll stop here, but to conclude, I just want to say that the project served as a nice reminder to me about how important it is to try something out of your comfort zone, and that whether you succeed or fail, you learn something new along the way, and that sometimes, what you learned is better than meeting the original goal you’d been aiming for, because maybe that end wasn’t right, or you just weren’t ready to accomplish it yet.

1 comment
  1. meredithpurvis said:

    I like how substantial your book feels, despite being a scroll, and I like how wonderfully the map fits within it. Nice job,

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