Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Reading The Map - BCOP100

Today's lecture was based on 'reading the map' and how maps that we use and see in our everyday lives are somewhat deceiving and are not what they seem. Maps without any context are almost unusable, as they can be years out of date and would no longer relate to the dynamic world that we live in. Likewise, maps from fantasy worlds and video games are inadequate in the real world, yet are crucial to find your way around in a made up reality.

One of my favourite maps is the Tube Map, which was designed by Harry Beck in 1933. It revolutionised the way that maps were designed and read, and is still being used to this day.

Before, the tube map was somewhat easy to read and follow, but with the addition of new lines and stations, the map begun to look overcrowded and impossible to read:

In 1933 Harry Beck re-designed the look of the tube map, which used clean lines and colour coding - enabling travellers to read the map quickly when on the go:

To this day, the style that Harry Beck introduced in 1933 has been sustained throughout the expanding travel networks, and still reads perfectly:

I think I love the tube map so much is because of its simplicity and use of colour. I am someone who works well with colour and visualises certain words in certain colours. Therefore when in London, I actually find it fun to use the map to work out where to go and what train to catch. I also love how timeless the design is, and despite the pressure of time and technology (which normally constrains old designs and pushes them to be re-designed), this design has persisted throughout these changes. In addition, the map isn't geographically accurate, and instead Beck placed the designs in a way that worked for him and what visually looked right. Most maps are designed to be accurate in this way, but this one works much more efficiently with the locations not being in the right place:
(What the tube map would look like if it were physically accurate - very complicated to read!)

So although the tube map is deceiving in terms of accurate geographical location, it does work, and has done for over 80 years.

After discussing maps, we were asked to make a map of the college. It didn't have to be of the college itself, so I decided to make one of my journey to PCA. I took slight inspiration from the tube map in the way of it not being to scale or the locations being relative to each other:
Made using watercolour and pen

[1] BBC News (2013). [online]. Tube 150th Anniversary - How the underground map evolved. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-20943525 [Accessed on 18th October 2016]
[2] Buzz Feed (2015). [online]. This Physically Accurate Tube Map Will Change The Way You Think About London. Patrick Smith. Available at: https://www.buzzfeed.com/patricksmith/theres-now-a-tube-map-that-shows-what-london-actually-looks?utm_term=.io6E1AMW7#.riXExNkZX [Accessed on 18th October 2016]

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