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People often talk about a city as if she were a person, Adam Dant takes that notion and thought… what if I could draw a map of a city showing her personality? From that we get the book Living Maps, a look into the heart and history of 28 cities from around the world.
From the cover:
This collection of maps explores the unique personalities of 28 cities around the world, shedding light on the strange and marvelous ways in which humans interact with the places they call home. Artist and creative cartographer Adam Dant dissects Manhattan in an anatomical diagram, traces the form of a Picasso nude in the streets of Monaco, and transforms the crisscrossing paths of boats on the Bosporus into the nerves of Istanbul. Dant draws on the history, culture, and geography of each city and on the beguiling aesthetic of antique maps to create gorgeous works of cartographic art. Witty, insightful, and adorned with a gold foil-stamped cover, this book will capture the imaginations of travelers, map enthusiasts, history buffs, and dreamers.
What you get:
The author has three page introduction explaining the origin of the maps (Dr. London) and the thoughts behind the making of them. Rearranged and displayed for us from the crumbling pages of old books.
Each city is introduced with four smaller images, and one larger one depicting different aspects of th ecity. Brief text accompanies each of the smaller images.
The next page presents us with a full-colour image of the city personified. The images were well put together, presented in different formats, some on a tile background, others laid out on paper, and others appeared as simple outlines with city streets, others had smaller images running around the edges of the maps. A good variety in typology.
I have to admit, I’m not sure what I think of this book. Part of me is intrigued, but there is also a solid part of me that is a bit freaked out. I don’t quite understand it myself. The map of Edinburgh showing the mix between the old and the new had me intrigued, and Venice with the lion… I liked those, they made me think…. yet the maps of London and Tokyo had me quickly turning the pages saying nope, nope, not that.
The freaked out moments had me not wanting to turn back to the book despite my intrigue with the rest of the book. So it’s hard for me to get past the negative to reach the positive, but I am admittedly a person that is easily freaked out by the unusual. And frankly, seeing a city personified is a bit unusual in the drawn form.
At the same time, I have inklings of the possibilities for an art class (not one taught by me) where students are challenged to see the personality of an object, city, thought pattern and then find a way to express that in a visual form. This book could prove to be an inspiration for that type of class.
Living Maps: An Atlas of Cities Personified
Hardcover, 128 pages
Art, Geography, History, Maps
Reviewed for Raincoast Books.
Find it on Amazon.