Faintly Hinted

Wind map.
Wind map.

About wind direction. Something about wind direction. About circulation studies. Something about circulation studies.

No, none of that. Using aggregate wind direction data, wind map projects national billows, any given moment’s breeze pathways. It offers a kind of air-truthing, a geography of the felt-unseen, forces I notice when the windows creak from gusts at night or when I lumber out for a few slow miles north by northwest near the horse stables, upwind from the horse stables.

Source: Wind Map

“Your Head Will Pop Off”

Feedlied across this snapshot of John Feathers’ vast collection of maps, city guides (mostly from Los Angeles), and pamphlets–an innocuous archive or impressive case of cartographic hoarding, I don’t know. The archive, its unusual ordinariness, its scale, its discovery, all of this is interesting, or passingly so for map enthusiasts, the sharpest thumbtack of this piece for my thinking is from the video, the note near the end about the memorial function of maps, their capacity for temporal-affective relocation, their dormant-until-brightly-lit teleportation function: when-where, an interlacing of spacetime. After the pragmatic, what do maps want more than this?

Under Construction

Under Construction

Getting my hands dirty with Illustrator, sketching a fuzzy vision for a someday course on Rhetorico-geographical Positioning Systems (RPS). I never do this, but I’ve missed self-set deadline for proposing the course at least twice in 2011, which suggests the only felt urgency for such a creation is my own. Now–and publicly–setting a third deadline for real-izing this proposal by, oh, the 8th of Wheneveruary, 2012.

“Rain” AND “Routes”

Imagined Geographies

A Wednesday morning. 9 a.m. An hour into the day’s office hours. This is the first rainy day of the semester; high humidity makes for a muggy Equinox Eve. Soon I will pack my things and walk a GPStimated three-quarters of a mile across campus to teach my first class of the day, ENGL326: Research Writing, in which we will develop short lists of Halavaisian engine-searching precepts and then step through the setting up of Google Search Alerts via RSS.

The rain will make today’s walking sloppier–a puddle-dodging trek past the library and the science building. This is a new problem intensified (potentially) by the temporary relocation of our campus offices. On teaching days this semester I walk almost three miles back and forth across campus: Rackham, Hoyt, McKenny, Hoyt, Rackham, Bowen Lot. When the weather makes clear skies and 68F, all of the back and forth is fine. But when it rains. But when it rains.

And then there’s an unexpected umbrella frailty, or umbrailty if you are still in the mood for new words on this gray morning: my finest umbrella, an old and sturdy stand-by since my time in Syracuse, is failing. The handle slips off from time to time, and now it will not close up for stowing. The clasp does not catch. The canopy wants always to be open (a sure sign of its late-life wish for vigor and lasting purpose), and this makes some people think my unkempt umbrella is the cause for today’s showers. I have a second umbrella. Green and free (a gift from REC/IM), it does not withstand winds like the aging gear I just described. For today, at least, it might be enough to keep me dry and out of scorn-shot from the superstitious out there.

Method’s Con-trails

Caught a small
blip of discussion
yesterday concerned with whether or not Google Earth


the lost city of Atlantis
. Remnants of the elusive, underwater cityscape?

According to Google Maps Mania,


It’s true that many amazing discoveries have been made in Google Earth
including a pristine forest in Mozambique that is home to previously unknown
species and the remains of an Ancient Roman villa.

In this case, however, what users are seeing is an artefact of the data
collection process. Bathymetric (or sea floor terrain) data is often
collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the sea floor.

The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data. The fact
that there are blank spots between each of these lines is a sign of how
little we really know about the world’s oceans.

How little we know, indeed. Is this Atlantis? The conspiracy doesn’t interest me all that much.
Instead, I’m struck by the impression: the stamp left by the "systematic"
tracing, the residue of the surface-to-sea-floor method (a term others
have smartly untangled it into meta-hodos or something like ‘beyond
ways’, even ‘ways
beyond’; this etymological dig lingers with me). The deep blue grid of
"bathymetric data" elicits questions: why don’t we see these in the adjacent
areas? What was it about this boat, this collection process,
translation from sound to image, that left behind the vivid trails?

Robert Sarmast
elaborated on the image’s trail-grid, noting:

The lines you’re referring to are known as "ship-path artifacts" in the
underwater mapping world. They merely show the path of the ship itself as it
zig-zagged over a predetermined grid. Sonar devices cannot see directly
underneath themselves. The lines you see are the number of turns that the
ship had to make for the sonar to be able to collect data for the entire
grid. I’ve checked with my associate who is a world-renowned geophysicist
and he confirmed that it is artifact. Sorry, no Atlantis.

More provocations here: the grid’s unevenness, its predetermination, the
inability of the sonar devices to see (erm…hear) directly below. And
yet, a telling illustration of method alongside method: seems to me a subtle
allegory in the adjacency of ocean floor imagery with lines and without.
Presumably, the surrounding ground was measured similarly. Why no lines?

Lobotomap 2

The Yesterblog at the right reminded me that I’d put together one of these three years ago, after lifting the idea from here. And since today’s been one of the those mid-fall brain-stew Fridays, using the last few neuronal pulses that remain after this week, I thought why not conjure up another brain map, even declare the lobotomap a triennial EWM tradition. Until 2011….

Lobotome 2