Hand Mapping Movie Utopias

The 1993 hit sci-fi movie Jurassic Park mostly takes place in a theme park located on an island called Isla Nublar by Andrew DeGraff.

Freelance illustrator and artist Andrew DeGraff was formally trained as a Communications Design Major with a focus Illustration from Pratt Institute. In his professional career he has worked with a variety of clients such as, Visa, Sports Illustrated, Kellogg’s, The New York Times, GAP Kids and Anthropologie.

In one of his most recent series, “CineMaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies”DeGraff created 35 hand done maps of films such as, Lord of the Rings, Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Jaws, The Shining, Goonies etc. Each map features an intricate base with the routes journeyed by main characters in each film. Some of the subjects are more generalized while others focus on certain timeframes within each film.

I was initially drawn to this series because of the playful nature of the subject: geographically organizing movies as well as the pieces being visually compelling. I believe this series qualifies as deep mapping as it meets the criteria set out in the Les Roberts reading. According to Roberts, “deep mapping necessarily entails what Schiavini refers to as “deep travel” [deep travel] …usefully points to is the performative work that goes into both the production of “deeply” configured spatial knowledge. His images appear as individual utopias that have been lived in by various fictional characters.

The specific map I choose to critique was his visual representation of the 1993 sci-fi classic, Jurassic Park. The map showcases the theme park on the island Isla Nublar. As a graphic the image is incredibly compelling. The map shows cartographic precision, as fan of the Jurassic Park series, I could recognize the island immediately. The angle at which he chooses to display each image allows the viewer to read and understand what is happening on the island spatially as well as its connection to the other islands. The Paths of each character are neatly laid out however, a legend is missing to dictate which character corresponds to which color. There are also a few other formalities that are missing such as a title, a small blurb to describe the project etc. Also, I wish the character trails were done in a more defined style that would make them more prominent against the base. Additionally, by defining a start and end of each character journey as well as a time stamp of the movie length would allow the viewer to understand the path endured.

Though these maps may seem like a stretch from my final project (mapping sea level rise in the Caribbean and showing the population density of those affected), I felt as though DeGraff’s style and could influence my project. From studying his work and his process I began to envision how I could go about making my maps. My project does not require 100% precision rather, the playful and artistic nature of deep mapping could be more appealing than a scientific approach. Additionally, I can treat each island as a “little world” and develop them graphically in order represent the coastal communities and the outdated infrastructure that exist in the Caribbean. When observing DeGraff’s maps I also recognized the character paths to be a defining feature of his maps and wondered how I could bring this element into my personal work. I began to realize that I could use one of my 5 maps to plot the rising sea levels as one continuous band around all the islands. With regards to style, I initially envisioned my maps to be done in sheer layers however, I began to realize that using opaque colors would allow the information being displayed to stand out.