MapCarte 213/365: “1945-1998″ by Isao Hashimoto, 2003

The topic or theme of a thematic map goes a long way to explaining its success. No matter how hard you might try, a run-of-the-mill subject matter will always find it difficult to speak to a large audience and gain huge plaudits. It’s fair to say that many of the more successful thematic maps tackle an obscure or contentious subject matter. They most definitely do have something to say and if you marry the form and function well, then they stand out from the crowd.

Isao Hashimoto’s utterly simple approach to map-making would not work when applied to any number of thematic maps. Using simple shapes, an aesthetic that borrows heavily from computer games from the 1980s with their blocky graphics, annoying sounds and a blinking almost strobe like effect…this is not an easy map to look at. But that’s the point. The map is a statement on the horror of the 2053 nuclear explosions the map catalogues with a temporal framework of 1 second per month.

Early horrors make way to periods of relative quiet before huge testing programmes begin. The counters show the cumulative ‘scores’ and different ‘players’ enter the game as they become nuclear nations.

Hashimoto’s approach to the map and the style he embraced make this a stand-out map. The visual and audible discomfot matches the subject matter and the stark presentation brings home the message he wished to communicate perfectly.