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The necessity and nuisance of survival, or how to keep our senses

By Jan Smits


There are analogies between the transition from manuscripts to printed material\ud and from analogue to digital material. When we observe the transition from\ud manuscripts to print materials we see first a degeneration in expression, because\ud woodblock printing was a crude technology compared to the stylus or goosefeather.\ud Lines and symbols especially are broader and irregular. Only when\ud technology permitted a sharper definition of the expression (e.g. with copperengravings\ud or lithography) there came the time that it overreached the possibilities\ud of the manuscript stage.\ud Though digital cartography permits depictions on the scale 1:1 most expressions\ud appear crude compared to the analogue expression. Also because of\ud the colour regime, and partly due to the VDU we have to work with, it offends\ud our esthetical taste a lot of the time.\ud Simultaneously there is a transition in map-content. Manuscript maps are often\ud working survey documents, symbolic, judicial, etc. and mainly give a local view.\ud The printed map tries to give a static view of the earth and the influence of\ud mankind on it as well as mankindâ\u80\u99s own interaction, but also gives better\ud possibilities to envisage more realistically remoter (ideas about) space. The\ud digital map will show most probably a more dynamic view of what is\ud represented on the printed map, and carries the danger of disenfranchising the\ud viewer from its base in reality by its inherent virtuality and possibilities for pure\ud abstractions. But the ongoing transition in technology also makes it possible to\ud increase diversity of content and increase the complexity of symbolisation in\ud every consecutive stage

Topics: transitions, maps, digitalisation
Year: 1999
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