Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fundament: Mapping the World, In 3D

A few years ago blew my mind. It's a website where they show you maps of the world, but not with the goal of showing you geographical data. The maps show you the state of the world, how the wealth is divided, where different religions are most common and how the population is distributed. If you've never seen it before it's a strong recommendation to check it out. (You'll be fascinated if the world interests you as much as it interests me).

But what I actually want to talk about is Fundament, by Berlin artist Andreas Fischer. Fundament is a sculpture that combines data with art, it would have done an excellent job in MOMA's Design And The Elastic Mind last spring.

It's maybe a bit hard to see, but it represents a map of the world. America on the left, Europe in the middle and Asia on the right; the world, as we know it. Except for the fact that it has been tweaked for a bit. The lowest layer is a piece of wood that has been crafted.

It looks like this. It represents the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which is the amount of money that is 'earned' in a country. I'll give you an example to illustrate it, in the U.S. there are millions of people who earn money the GDP is the sum of all those incomes, and thus it's a measure for the welfare a country enjoys.

So what are the bars that run over it? They represent the so called derivatives volume. This gives an indiction how much business is done in one country or another.
Just a few last words by Fischer himself:
This sculpture is a statistical map, a hybrid between physical and conceptual space. The horizontal arrangement equates to the Mercator* projection of a world map and the vertical axis metaphorically corresponds to the financial activity of the country.

The Mercator projection of the/a world is a cylindrical approach. The world is a sphere but it's hard to draw a sphere on a map. So the geographer Mercator proposed his idea: "let's assume the world is a cylinder then we can cut it at one point and roll it open." Then you indeed have a nice rectangular view of the world. The Mercator projection is pretty common actually, it's used for almost any world map and astronomers use it for mapping the skies.

No comments: