MapCarte 177/365: Tracking the Economic Disaster by Daniel Mason, 2011


Innovation in cartography can come from anywhere. This is a prismatic choropleth map but wait…it’s made from wood. Created by Daniel Mason at Cal Poly, Pomona, the map displays each state‚Äôs unemployment rate (shown by elevation) and population density (shown by wood type).

What mason has done is worked with two very simple visual variables….lightness and height. He uses lightness of the wood stain to give us that typical choropleth look from light to dark. He then adds in height to encode a second variable and because this map is a gallery installation people are able to view from multiple angles to get the effect.

MapCarte177_wood_legendThe map is laser cut but the legend detail is presented in the same exacting way. It brings a sense of accuracy and precision to what might otherwise be seen simply as an artistic piece.

A wonderfully different approach to making a map…not something that you can put in your pocket and go hill walking with but it’s a gallery piece and works very well in this use context.