It is very likely for some people to be unfamiliar with Rabinsky and illustrated maps. A great majority use Google maps with 360o panoramic views of streets and real time traffic updates for navigation. The fact is illustrated maps are not created for navigation’s sake alone but for enjoyment. Map illustrations are visually appealing because they provide a view from above at an oblique angle.
What is the future of illustrated maps today with satellite and digital mapping tools that have turned the art of map-making into a modern technology field?Maps have talismanic powers that has helped in forming spatial concepts and advanced explorations. Maps have shaped geopolitical ideas and triggered international disputes; however, the best thing that maps have given people were the large and detailed pictures of the world.
Technology with all its accuracy has guaranteed new ways of visualizing space. Modern cartography combines art, experience and topography with storytelling. According to Zhou Qiming, professor and director of the Center for Geo-Computation Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University, cartography has entered a new era. In the past map making was focused solely on being able to project the earth and its spherical form into a flat plane. Now it is no longer just about spatial display but map-like visualizations.
The earliest known maps were produced as artistic expressions instead of accurate representations. The Babylonian Map of the World in clay tablet was created in Mesopotamia during 700 to 500 B.C. The map depicted Babylonia as the center of the world with a circular waterway that has been labeled as Salt Sea and 8 triangular regions.
In the 2nd century, map making took a turn for the realistic. But even as cartography became accurate science, most of the maps were still about storytelling, cultural traditions and religious views. Today, with radar and GPS, maps have moved into the digital sphere.
Illustrated maps by Rabinsky are not maps in the traditional sense but creative work to show the world under different parameters. Illustrated maps are like artworks with colorful hand-drawn illustrations. Prominent parts of a landscape are highlighted so that a viewer will immediately gain a feeling of identification.