Maps are one way humans make sense of their environment. In this age of Google Earth, where a few mouse clicks call up a satellite image of almost any inch of the globe, it can be difficult to imagine a time when maps were often based as much on hearsay and guesswork as scientific surveying.
By ESTHER BELL From September 9 to November 27, 2011, The Morgan Library & Museum presents seventeen exquisite drawings and some letters by French master Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. In this issue, The Common publishes four drawings from the exhibition.
Read an interview between editor Jennifer Acker and curator Esther Bell about these drawings and the artist’s refined sense of place here.
From the very dawn of the new technology, photographers sought to capture images of the heavens. In 1839 Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre—inventor of the daguerreotype—attempted to shoot the moon, with little success. As photographic technology developed throughout the nineteenth century, it became an important tool in many branches of scientific inquiry. James Nasmyth’s book, The Moon: Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite, is one of the most curious examples of Victorian scientific publishing.
The year is 1972, and as you’re driving along the highway in Rifle, Colorado, a giant orange curtain appears, looming vibrantly over a distant valley. Or, maybe it’s 1997 and you’re in Switzerland. You’ve decided it’s a nice day for a walk in Berrower Park when you notice there’s something different about the trees—namely that they’re covered in gargantuan sheets of polyester fabric.