Thursday, May 17, 2012

Paula Scher's Map of Africa

At the other end of cartographic history from the previous post's artifact sits this contemporary specimen from world-famous graphic designer Paula Scher of the Pentagram Group. In its own way nearly as abstract as the chart from 1570, with fanciful interpretations of the shapes of many of the countries, especially Cameroon, Benin, Mozambique and several others. 

The map's defining feature is overwhelming bustle of twisting place names that fan out across the entire canvas. Country names and capital cities are most prominent, but each space on land and ocean is filled with the chalky block type of cities and other features near to their true location. 

"Liberia" is in white and upside-down from the reader as the Guinea Coast turns northwesterly. "Monrovia" is nearly more prominent in black, delimited in a white box. Between the two sits the large, bending "Grain Coast" crammed in with a dozen other town names: Harbel, Mount Barclay, Buchanan, Edina, Hartford, Greenville, Marshall, Brewerville, Tubmanburg, Robertsport. Settler communities, all. Back on the land, names of a few county towns can barely be deciphered in tiny, thin letters-- only Zwedru is large enough to read from afar. 

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