Bricks to Blocks: a Lego New York
Lego and New York. They were made for each other.
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
New York is famous for the grid pattern of its city blocks. Lego is famous for the interlocking bricks that are the foundation stones of its worldwide toy empire. The two were destined to meet, as they do in the art of J.R. Schmidt.
In 2012, the 3D artist and motion designer computer-generated this psychedelic interpretation of Manhattan and surrounding boroughs, using Lego-like bricks to give his map the look and feel of a "real" scale model. It helps that Lego, probably Denmark's most successful single export product, is the real-world equivalent of the pixels that make up a computer graphic.
Schmidt based his work on various maps and satellite images depicting the elevation level in NYC. He translated that data into the height, color, and opacity of his bricks — which therefore don't correspond with individual buildings, but represent an abstract, statistical average of the city's topography.
Strange Maps #734
Found a weird map? Let me know at email@example.com.