Notable Map: Inside the Geologic Brain of Buckminster Fuller | Héctor Tarrido-Picart

Click on image above to view a zoomable PDF of the full map [2.5 MB]

Author Essay: In 1943, Richard Buckminster Fuller created the Dymaxion Map for Life Magazine’s March edition.[i] Fuller’s intent was to put forward an alternative to the dominant mode of projecting the globe of the Earth on a flat surface. His idea: unfolding the sphere of the Earth on an icosahedron to minimize the distortion of the continents that appear in other maps. Previous to his attempt, other projections of the Earth dominated the world of cartography. The Mercator projector, for example, was a projection that dated back to the 16th century and distorted the continents size in order to fit the shipping rhumb lines that connected the desired navigating destinations. The Dymaxion map was conceived as an alternative to other projections where the Earths continental mass could be shown without distortion. The map was dynamic as it was composed of single triangular units that could be recomposed to tell different stories. It was a map that could show the Worlds Ocean as a single body of water or it could show the stratosphere as a single continuous mass. It essentially remapped the Earth as a system rather than a projection. My map asks the following question: What was going in Buckminster Fuller’s mind when he generated the Dymaxion Map. “Inside the geologic Brain of Buckminster Fuller” aims at trying to approximate the cognitive prelude to the Dymaxion map. For while the Dymaxion map had multiple ways of assemblage, it seems that its relationship to the Earth geologic conditions was what first allowed Buckminster Fuller to reimagine the world as a icosahedron.

In “Inside the Geologic Brain of Buckminster Fuller”, the Dymaxion map is re-imagined as a single world mountain range where the mountain ranges are shown in section rather than in plan-view. The corresponding textual information and the lines which lie outside the bounds of the Dymaxion map correspond with the geological and spatial factors that create the world mountain range. The numbers inside the Dymaxion triangles annotate the angle of inclination of the Earth in relation the two dominant magnetic fields of the Earth. The arc lines that circumvent the map are a speculative flat projection of the gravitational pull created by the inclination of the Earth. Finally, the smooth curves that lie outside the triangulated Dymaxion map correspond to the Earth’s magnetic field according to the Tesla (nT) intensity created by Earth’s inner core. The map aims to show how external and internal factors help shape the Earth as it is.

With electromagnetic waves, mountain ranges, angles of gravitational pull, angles of inclinations, and geomorphology, “Inside the Geologic Brain of Buckminster Fuller” aims to bring forward all the fuzzy conditions Buckminster Fuller most likely considered to create the Dymaxion map. My map is a speculative prelude to Fuller’s Dymaxion map.

The map exists both as a flat projection and could be cut-out and folded into an icosahedron; it also exists as an object.

I am currently a graduate student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design pursuing dual degrees in Landscape Architecture and Urban Design. My current line of research and interest lies on use of geographic information systems as a medium for design, mapping of extreme territories, remote sensing technologies, flexible ecologies and dynamic base ecological design. I have extended my research by participating in Prof. Neil Brenner’s Urban Theory Lab research project on urbanization of Extreme Territories and by exploring the medium of mapping with Robert Pietrusko.

[i] The Dymaxion Map.

Click on image above to view the map in full size [2.5 MB PDF]

Medium/Software: ArcMap, Rhino, Grasshopper, Processing

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