Methods of mapping

Methods of Mapping

Consider how maps were made before the invention of modern technologies. Look at the Map of the Moon (1679): Would it be easier to make a world map by telescope, or sight alone, if you could stand on the moon? How would you map a place you couldn't see in its entirety? How would you make decisions about what to include and what to exclude?

Mapping from Memory

Draw a map of the journey to school or a collective walk you've just completed. Compare your map with the rest of the group and consider differences and similarities? Why aren't the maps the same? Why do each of us notice and remember different things? If we have different experiences of a place or a journey, how accurate are memory and/or perception as tools for mapping?

Rubbernecking Maps

Now, in pairs, sit back to back. One person describes the place you are in, while the other person draws it accordingly. Compare the drawn map to the room. What was difficult about describing the room? About drawing it? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages in using other people's accounts of places you cannot see yourself? Is there a way of making the method more accurate?

Look at the Map of China by Hokusai (1840) and discuss how description, traveller's tales, the cartographer's imagination and his personal style may have influenced the creation of the map. Is Hokusai's map a map at all, or is it an inspired artwork?

Size Matters

Look at the Chinese World Map (1644), and the map showing Routes from London to Luton Hoo (1767)] Cartographers know that size matter: Large objects seem more important. Play with the idea of scale by selecting a small but important object from the classroom. Draw it large on to a map of the room. Discuss what was selected and why? Does the map of large objects reflect the function of the room, or does it say more about the interests and beliefs of its makers?