Wonderground Map of London
Here we have a cartoon map with a black and white chevron pattern that forms the map border. You might think a heavy black and white chevron pattern would overwhelm a map but this doesn’t because there is otherwise so much information throughout the composition that it doesn’t out-compete. This is an example of maximalism, which is definitely not how Vanessa decorates her home.
What is it advertising though? London’s Underground metro system! You’re essentially getting an advertisement of London itself, showing you what you could do in London, and the Underground is how you would get to all those interesting places. In 1914, when this was made, people weren’t really using the Underground on the weekends, it had a reputation for being crowded and dirty, and this map was supposed to--get ready for it--elevate the Underground. Underground stations are named inside blue ribbons. This isn’t a tourist map, it’s for people who already live there as exemplified by the text bubbles highlighting inside jokes that you might not understand if you weren’t a resident. Is there really a dragon in the middle of London? We wonder.
The map artist is MacDonald Gill. We both made a special point of noticing that this map is almost like Where’s Waldo but better! It’s better because you are exploring it in a way that makes you keep looking for more fun things even after you’ve found one or two, and also because it makes you interested in visiting these places in person. The color scheme is yellow and blue with a little red, the black outlining along the Thames River is quite bold but that’s okay because it fits in with the rest of the colorful boldness. What is not on top of the visual hierarchy is the white roofed buildings, instead they form a pattern, but they don’t stand out a lot. In this way the roofs create visual texture and are functional without being overbearing. There is more detail on the salient landmarks though, so those can standout a little more if you look closely.
We philosophize over the fact that time is nothing. Back to the map, we point out some of the inside jokes that we don’t understand. There should be one of these with inside jokes for today for every location. Vanessa wants to go to London now, even in 2021, so the advertising worked!
Silicon Valley 1991
Here’s another pictorial map. This one might not make us want to visit there but it does definitely feel advertise-y. The map is cool and pretty with a lot of textures that make it a bit painterly, with visible brush strokes and pen strokes. The map presents a perspective as though you are in the depths of the valley. The vanishing point is directly in front of the figures at the bottom, but the perspective and pitch of the map changes such that you feel that the roads are dipping and undulating, giving the distinct impression of hills that are going upward toward the top of the map. The large hot air balloon and plane are at the top and provide depth and perspective.
We wonder if the map maker, Jill Amen, created the map first and then placed the ads on top, and if so, we’d like to see it without all the ads. Each of the organizations shown on the map paid to get their adverts on it. This kind of advertising happens today in our digital maps as well, where a company pays to be on the map with a unique icon or label. The billboard-like advertisements are blocking our view of the basemap! We are glad that the nice San Francisco landmarks are not covered up at the top. By the way, maps like this are still being made today, search for Silicon Valley Map to find more from the same company.
A map called Silicon Valley in 1982 has a similar perspective and is also a pictorial so we wonder how it relates to this and if it was an inspiration for it. There was definitely social commentary associated with the Silicon Valley in 1982 map so we wonder whether this one might have an element of that as well. There are a lot of nods to the technology and science industries, more landmarks, a budget sign tied to a rock near the bay, and maybe a reference to Berkeley being off in the distance, though we aren’t completely sure. Diversity in the technology industry, or rather, its lack of it, is brought up here. Are companies today taking diversity seriously? Were they then?
TAM Cargo Series
“Anything to Anywhere” is the slogan for this company, called TAM Cargo. The idea behind these advertisements is that TAM Cargo can ship your breakable items anywhere in the world and they will come out intact at the other end of their journey. We feel like the advertisements are successful in conveying this. The continents of the world are spliced, repositioned, and made into three particular shapes in this series: a guitar, a rocking horse, and a lampshade. In the guitar map, Australia is at the headstock where you tune the strings, various islands and Greenland make up the neck and fingerboard, Africa and South America make up the upper bout, Asia and Europe together are the upper half of the body and North America makes up the lower bout. The continents are shifted in different orientations so they may not be instantly recognizable. The ocean dark blue makes up the rest of the background.
This seems simple but it must have taken a long time to figure out how to maintain the shape of the continents and still form the shape of the item. This anticipates the darkmode fad as it was made about 10 years ago and the presentation is dark with near-black water and a black background. Essentially the ads make their point in a super creative way and, as far as an advertisement goes, it is very effective.
The continents show exaggerated relief, and that’s fine, but also, if you look closely, there’s exaggerated trees. Each tree could be 50 miles wide on these. This goes along with the surrealness of the advertising. For most viewers they probably won’t notice this strangeness. This is reminiscent of how a game map might look. Otherwise the textures make you feel like it is a proper satellite image. The guitar ad had a rock star vibe, which reminded us of Joy Plots, which take their inspiration from the 1979 album cover for Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures. It had a bunch of lines on it, forming a mountainous region in the middle, and this same way of depicting data is used variously in regular plots and on maps sometimes. At any rate, we figure that someone should make one of these into a poster that’s not advertising anything. We’d buy it.
This finishes out season #1! Thank you to everyone for listening to our first season of URHere. Thank you to John Meeske for editing every single one of these episodes. Also thank you to Braden Peterson for creating the intro/outro. Thank you to everyone who has thrown in a few bucks on urherepodcast.com to help us out. Thank you to the commenters and suggestion givers. We would like there to be a season 2 and look out for a book in the near future!