Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Putting the Art into Cartography

I've always wondered why interactive mapping platforms are not used more often to present and explore famous works of art. Paintings can be easily imported into any of the popular mapping platforms. Users can then use the panning and zooming tools to explore a painting and developers can use markers and other mapping tools to highlight and explain important features within the art.

You can see what is possible in The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch - An Online Interactive Adventure. This wonderful mapped presentation provides a guided audiovisual tour of Bosch's triptych and allows you to explore The Garden of Earthly Delights at your own pace.

The interactive actually doesn't use a mapping platform for its presentation but it certainly uses all the navigation tools which users are familiar with from online maps. You can zoom in and out and pan around the painting at will. The painting also includes a number of map markers which allow you to learn more about details within the triptych.

If you click on a painting marker you can listen to an audio explanation of the selected scene. You can also select to read the same analysis in a pop-up information window.

The Digital Declaration of Independence uses the Neatline story map tool to present an annotated version of John Trumbull's 1819 painting 'Declaration of Independence'. The mapping platform used in this Neatline story map is OpenLayers.

John Trumbull's, Declaration of Independence, depicts the presentation of the draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress. I particularly admire the way the Neatline mapping tool has been used to create an interactive version of Trumball's painting.  42 of the 56 signatories of the Declaration are portrayed in the painting. You can select any of the 42 figures portrayed in the painting to view their biography and their hometown on an interactive map.

StoryMap JS is another mapping template which works really well with paintings or other images. StoryMap for Images provides a great example map created from Georges Seurat's 'A Sunday on La Grande Jatte'.

The StoryMap of A Sunday on La Grande Jatte uses a gigapixel image of the painting and essentially turns it into an interactive map. This enables StoryMap to place markers on the painting and for users to pan, zoom and interact with the painting as they would with a normal interactive map.

The markers on the map can be clicked on to view details in the painting and to view an explanation of Seurat's post-impressionistic style and the painting's subject matter.
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