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11 Works of Art Made With Road Maps

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Whether it’s a traditional Thomas Brothers map book or Google Maps Street View, most of us use maps on at least a fairly regular basis. It’s not all that surprising that we take them for granted, but fortunately there are plenty of artists out there to remind us just how beautiful the art of cartography can be. Here are 11 great artworks made with road maps.

Nikki Rosato

In many ways, the blood and nervous system seem to serve as road maps for the human body. Additionally, when it comes to emotional bonds, we are connected to those we love in more ways than we realize. Artist Nikki Rosato brings new light to these concepts with her creations made from hand-cut road maps.

Matthew Cusick

With a few cutting devices, a bunch of road maps and a tiny bit of paint, Matthew Cusick is able to transform navigational tools into stunning portraits and nature scenes. The results remind us just how much beauty is in a standard map and how much we take the true artistry of cartographers for granted.

Shannon Rankin

Aside from having some of the most varied map creations of all the artists featured here, Shannon Rankin has one of the most concise artistic statements regarding her decision to incorporate them into her artwork, explaining, “Maps are the everyday metaphors that speak to the fragile and transitory state of our lives and our surroundings. Rivers shift their course, glaciers melt, volcanoes erupt, boundaries change both physically and politically. The only true constant is change.”

Karen O'Leary

If you have ever admired the unique shapes created when natural barriers like rivers, mountains and bays intersect with the otherwise grid-like layout of city streets, then you’ll love the art of Karen O’Leary. The artist uses maps of famous locales around the world and white paper to cut out, or occasionally to mark out, everything but the weaving lines of city streets. For example, that’s a cutout of New Orleans above and a marked-out take on London below.

Elisabeth Lecourt

If home is where the heart is and you wear your heart on your sleeve, then it only makes sense to wear your home around town. Okay, so technically you probably couldn’t actually wear these folded creations by Elisabeth Lecourt, but that doesn’t make them any less impressive, especially when you consider how few people can actually fold a road map back up into its original shape.

Susan Stockwell

Lecourt isn’t the only artist to envision maps as clothing. In fact, Susan Stockwell’s many gorgeous 3D paper dress designs look as though they could be thrown on and worn about town .

TerrorDome

Plenty of people enjoy marking the places they’ve visited on maps, but if you prefer having something a little artistic to commemorate your travels, then you might want to place a custom order with Etsy user TerrorDome who turns maps into gorgeous 3D butterflies captured in a shadowbox.

Ingrid Dabringer

If you can’t help but think of Italy as a boot ready to kick Sicily, then you’ll probably love the work of Ingrid Dabringer, who turns the shapes of cities and countries into cartoonish images of people with nothing more than a little acrylic paint and a lot of imagination.

Know any other cool works of art made from maps? If so, feel free to share in the comments.

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Courtesy of Nikon
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Microscopic Videos Provide a Rare Close-Up Glimpse of the Natural World
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Courtesy of Nikon

Nature’s wonders aren’t always visible to the naked eye. To celebrate the miniature realm, Nikon’s Small World in Motion digital video competition awards prizes to the most stunning microscopic moving images, as filmed and submitted by photographers and scientists. The winners of the seventh annual competition were just announced on September 21—and you can check out the top submissions below.

FIRST PRIZE

Daniel von Wangenheim, a biologist at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, took first place with a time-lapse video of thale cress root growth. For the uninitiated, thale cress—known to scientists as Arabidopsis thalianais a small flowering plant, considered by many to be a weed. Plant and genetics researchers like thale cress because of its fast growth cycle, abundant seed production, ability to pollinate itself, and wild genes, which haven’t been subjected to breeding and artificial selection.

Von Wangenheim’s footage condenses 17 hours of root tip growth into just 10 seconds. Magnified with a confocal microscope, the root appears neon green and pink—but von Wangenheim’s work shouldn’t be appreciated only for its aesthetics, he explains in a Nikon news release.

"Once we have a better understanding of the behavior of plant roots and its underlying mechanisms, we can help them grow deeper into the soil to reach water, or defy gravity in upper areas of the soil to adjust their root branching angle to areas with richer nutrients," said von Wangenheim, who studies how plants perceive and respond to gravity. "One step further, this could finally help to successfully grow plants under microgravity conditions in outer space—to provide food for astronauts in long-lasting missions."

SECOND PRIZE

Second place went to Tsutomu Tomita and Shun Miyazaki, both seasoned micro-photographers. They used a stereomicroscope to create a time-lapse video of a sweating fingertip, resulting in footage that’s both mesmerizing and gross.

To prompt the scene, "Tomita created tension amongst the subjects by showing them a video of daredevils climbing to the top of a skyscraper," according to Nikon. "Sweating is a common part of daily life, but being able to see it at a microscopic level is equal parts enlightening and cringe-worthy."

THIRD PRIZE

Third prize was awarded to Satoshi Nishimura, a professor from Japan’s Jichi Medical University who’s also a photography hobbyist. He filmed leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations in injured mouse cells. The rainbow-hued video "provides a rare look at how the body reacts to a puncture wound and begins the healing process by creating a blood clot," Nikon said.

To view the complete list of winners, visit Nikon’s website.

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Art
‘American Gothic’ Became Famous Because Many People Saw It as a Joke
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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1930, Iowan artist Grant Wood painted a simple portrait of a farmer and his wife (really his dentist and sister) standing solemnly in front of an all-American farmhouse. American Gothic has since inspired endless parodies and is regarded as one of the country’s most iconic works of art. But when it first came out, few people would have guessed it would become the classic it is today. Vox explains the painting’s unexpected path to fame in the latest installment of the new video series Overrated.

According to host Phil Edwards, American Gothic made a muted splash when it first hit the art scene. The work was awarded a third-place bronze medal in a contest at the Chicago Art Institute. When Wood sold the painting to the museum later on, he received just $300 for it. But the piece’s momentum didn’t stop there. It turned out that American Gothic’s debut at a time when urban and rural ideals were clashing helped it become the defining image of the era. The painting had something for everyone: Metropolitans like Gertrude Stein saw it as a satire of simple farm life in Middle America. Actual farmers and their families, on the other hand, welcomed it as celebration of their lifestyle and work ethic at a time when the Great Depression made it hard to take pride in anything.

Wood didn’t do much to clear up the work’s true meaning. He stated, "There is satire in it, but only as there is satire in any realistic statement. These are types of people I have known all my life. I tried to characterize them truthfully—to make them more like themselves than they were in actual life."

Rather than suffering from its ambiguity, American Gothic has been immortalized by it. The country has changed a lot in the past century, but the painting’s dual roles as a straight masterpiece and a format for skewering American culture still endure today.

Get the full story from Vox below.

[h/t Vox]

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