ATLAS OF NONEXISTENT PLACES
De | En | Impressum
Maria Sieradzki
2016
sieradzki.maria@gmail.com

NOT
EXISTENT
PLACES

Never trust a map.
Whether intended or not, a map can never reflect the absolute reality. This on one hand is due to the so-called cartographic paradox: Because one tries to project a three-dimensional surface to a two-dimensional level media distortions of actual features arise unavoidably. By transferring the entire spherical surface of the earth, the common representation of the continents on a world map for example has a strong distortion in the vertical direction, so that countries in north and south are displayed smaller than they actually are. However, sometimes it is also in the intention of the map designer that maps do not mirror the true representation of reality. The geographical maps either are not created absolutely realistic or details are changed, added or entirely excluded in order to manipulate the viewer purposefully. Information are deformed, unwanted facts omitted or falsified. Especially in military maps it was not uncommon to manipulate geographic information so that they would either mislead the counterparty or enable hidden messages to allies. For example, cases are known in which cartographers have hidden messages in topographical boundary lines using Morse code. In present times it is common in the field of advertising and economy to create maps where own locations are highlighted while shops of competitors cannot be found. A specific selection of the shown segment and the scale can also disguise that a power plant is located right next to the advertised residential area like the fact that the beach is a lot further away than anticipated. Moreover, it can be hardly prevented that cartographers as designers influence the representations and with that, change the world according to their own views—and sometimes even map designers afford a joke or are fallible in their work.Although maps are (/should) always (be) created with the greatest possible accuracy to ensure the precise location and paths as well as political or economic information there are (intentional) errors and manipulations of reality.
Thereby the improprieties
that—because of the supposed seriousness of cartographic representations—provide nonexistent places credibility and importance are most fascinating. Maps are mainly used to represent given elements, even with errors that cannot be undone and—if they are not seen—at least on paper, become a fact. A common reason for intentionally added errors—in addition to the proposed manipulation of the viewer by misleading information or omissions — is the function as a kind of watermark. This plagiarism traps, drawn in maps, are mostly cities and topographical features such as mountains, lakes or island that do not exist in the real world. Even roads are either completely reinvented or changed minimally—but only in some degree so that the viewer is not mislead, for example by drawing dead ends at locations where nothing can be found anyway. Intentional errors range from falsified objects to misspelled or unusual names to roads or buildings that were offset slightly. The author of the map appended such traps in his work in order to have a clear evidence in an eventual copyright dispute that the other map is a copy. If in the plagiarism these nonexistent location, streets and terrain features are applied, the copy can be unmasked as such. A fictitious place is the proof of a unique work. In digital maps the changes are often done at the lowest point of the geographical coordinates that are changed systematically. so that it is inconspicuous to the user but is still fundamental in copyright disputes.




and have found their way in today’s maps. Even so-called ‘Paper Towns’, cities and roads that were indeed planned but never realized, can be found in some geographic representations today, because often construction plans are used as cartographic reference and changes have occurred too shortly to take them into account. ‘Paper Towns’ are nonexistent places — mostly road sections —  that are not noticeable between the other real geographical elements unless one is at this exact point in reality. There are numerous examples of such phantom places that were known in retrospect, have been created afterwards or experienced popularity because of their nonexistence. The fictional place Agloe in the state of New York for example was initially intended as a plagiarism trap and actually exists now: In 1930 the founder of a road map publisher and his assistent drew a place named by their initials (Otto G. Lindberg and Ernest Alpers) at an intersection in the Catskill Mountains. However, twenty years later after a general store settled there and was named after the fictious place (as Agloe General Store) Agloe was declared as existent by the court in an actual copyright litigation. So fiction became to reality subsequently.
Many of these intentionally implemented inaccuracies of course were copied nevertheless
The manipulation of the map, the inventing of places, streets and geographical characteristics can only work if cartographic conventions are complied, if the elements can be accepted as a part of the entire map. The nonexistent information is credible by its design. So what happens if all content data are fictitious and only design decisions are allowed? Can maps named as such if the information they should display is negated? An infor-mation carrier without information? What happens if programs draw maps based on random generated content, without any political, topographical, real facts and create entire nonexistent landscapes? Information becomes abstract, the randomly generated representations are open to interpretation. The parts created by the programs can be combined so that the random generated places get attributed with a similar credibility as the plagiarism traps that seem to be real. The city, location or geographical feature is no longer solely the made-up component in a real environment—everything is made-up. Nothing can be manipulated deliberately because everything is manipulated, everything is random. The map itself is presented as an aestetic, no longer convenient medium. Phantom towns and landscapes are created to non-exist. The atlas shows the results and usages of programs and generators that construct nonexistent places, cities, landscapes and geographical features that can be filled freely with own information, that recall cartographic conventions abstractly and have not any meaning,
exept their nonexistent existence.
The coincident ist the most determinative component,
because it is the direct contrast to the actual intention of a map. Maps shall be, at best, the optimal projection of the real world, at least when used for localization, route guidance or as serious information carrier. The facts are dictated by the reality. Without these facts maps can be generated that allow unreal appearances, involve unpredictability and enable impossibilities: errors that should be avoided at precise cartography are creating new forms here and details that enhance the abstract representation, unlike real geographical images, more than harming them.
Among others, topographic basic maps as well as height maps, city plans and geographic representations of all kinds can be generated with the programs. A few parameters, mainly affecting the visual design of the map, can be set previously. All other values determine the results are chosen by the code randomly or by probabilities. By that each program enables a variety of different results. In further steps these can be legitimized by combining them with the arbitrary results of generators. Name generators print fictitious names of places. Both scales and highway numbers can be generated as well as elevations or coordinates. Economic maps can gain meaning and possibilities for interpretation with added symbols. Also, the additional use of conventional cartographic characters creates various opportunities for subsequent design and changes. And yet the maps do not have any value of information, no matter how many additional elements find place. However, some programs or their results can be combined with existing maps because some cartographic conventions are adhered.
The generated maps
can be printed with the help of an optional drawing machine. An additional abstraction is conditional by this output device allowing another random component. Nonexisting terrain and places are reinterpreted and created by an unusual way of visualising, subsequently inserted data disguised. The drawing machine is a way to leave any decision regarding map design entirely to programs. With that, unpredictable errors—starting point of the whole investigation—are formed just like by the generating programs.
^
>
i
<
Map_01
Topographic maps with cities
Map_02
Topographic maps with mountains
Map_03
City map with streets
Map_04
Economic map with seperated fields
Map_05
Economic map of a larger terrain
Map_06
Dot density map with areas and concentrations
Map_07
Concentric circle map
Map_08
Elevation map with halftones
Map_09
Multi-angle map of a terrain
Map_10
Abstract city map with a road network
Map_11
Three-dimensional section of a terrain
Map_12
Elevation map of a mountain range
Map_13
Topographic map of a valley
Map_14
Dreidimensionaler Ausschnitt eines Gebirges
Map_15
City map with a road network
<
corn
generate
Coldland
generate
cemetery
generate
generate
Economic generator
Namen generator
Pattern generator
Symbol generator


Further
generators:
Color Picker
Coordinate generator
Generator for
heights, streets and scale
The access code is located under the section «Download» in the Atlas.
You need to install Processing before using the programs.
  • f_city
  • f_land
  • f_latitude
  • f_river
  • f_roads

  • Color Picker
  • Coordinate generator
  • Economic generator
  • Generator for heights, streets and scale
  • Name generator
  • Pattern generator
  • Symbol generator
Type I
Pure topographic map I
(Example – image is picked randomly.)
Dimension
  • A4
    (210 x 297mm) 15€
  • A3
    (297 x 420mm) 25€
  • A2
    (420 x 594mm) 50€
Color
Your eMail-adress:
Type II
Pure topographic map II
(Example – image is picked randomly.)
Dimension
  • A4
    (210 x 297mm) 15€
  • A3
    (297 x 420mm) 25€
  • A2
    (420 x 594mm) 50€
Color
Your eMail-adress:
Type III
Topographic map with labels
(Example – image is picked randomly.)
Dimension
  • A4
    (210 x 297mm) 15€
  • A3
    (297 x 420mm) 25€
  • A2
    (420 x 594mm) 50€
Color
Labels
  • German
  • English
  • Random
Your eMail-adress:

Never trust a map. Whether intended or not, a map can never reflect the absolute reality. This on one hand is due to the so-called cartographic paradox: Because one tries to project a three-dimensional surface to a two-dimensional level media distortions of actual features arise unavoidably. By transferring the entire spherical surface of the earth, the common representation of the continents on a world map for example has a strong distortion in the vertical direction, so that countries in north and south are displayed smaller than they actually are. However, sometimes it is also in the intention of the map designer that maps do not mirror the true representation of reality. The geographical maps either are not created absolutely realistic or details are changed, added or entirely excluded in order to manipulate the viewer purposefully. Information are deformed, unwanted facts omitted or falsified. Especially in military maps it was not uncommon to manipulate geographic information so that they would either mislead the counterparty or enable hidden messages to allies. For example, cases are known in which cartographers have hidden messages in topographical boundary lines using Morse code. In present times it is common in the field of advertising and economy to create maps where own locations are highlighted while shops of competitors cannot be found. A specific selection of the shown segment and the scale can also disguise that a power plant is located right next to the advertised residential area like the fact that the beach is a lot further away than anticipated. Moreover, it can be hardly prevented that cartographers as designers influence the representations and with that, change the world according to their own views—and sometimes even map designers afford a joke or are fallible in their work.Although maps are (/should) always (be) created with the greatest possible accuracy to ensure the precise location and paths as well as political or economic information there are (intentional) errors and manipulations of reality.

Thereby the improprieties that—because of the supposed seriousness of cartographic representations—provide nonexistent places credibility and importance are most fascinating. Maps are mainly used to represent given elements, even with errors that cannot be undone and—if they are not seen—at least on paper, become a fact. A common reason for intentionally added errors—in addition to the proposed manipulation of the viewer by misleading information or omissions — is the function as a kind of watermark. This plagiarism traps, drawn in maps, are mostly cities and topographical features such as mountains, lakes or island that do not exist in the real world. Even roads are either completely reinvented or changed minimally—but only in some degree so that the viewer is not mislead, for example by drawing dead ends at locations where nothing can be found anyway. Intentional errors range from falsified objects to misspelled or unusual names to roads or buildings that were offset slightly. The author of the map appended such traps in his work in order to have a clear evidence in an eventual copyright dispute that the other map is a copy. If in the plagiarism these nonexistent location, streets and terrain features are applied, the copy can be unmasked as such. A fictitious place is the proof of a unique work. In digital maps the changes are often done at the lowest point of the geographical coordinates that are changed systematically. so that it is inconspicuous to the user but is still fundamental in copyright disputes.

Many of these intentionally implemented inaccuracies of course were copied nevertheless and have found their way in today’s maps. Even so-called ‘Paper Towns’, cities and roads that were indeed planned but never realized, can be found in some geographic representations today, because often construction plans are used as cartographic reference and changes have occurred too shortly to take them into account. ‘Paper Towns’ are nonexistent places — mostly road sections —  that are not noticeable between the other real geographical elements unless one is at this exact point in reality. There are numerous examples of such phantom places that were known in retrospect, have been created afterwards or experienced popularity because of their nonexistence. The fictional place Agloe in the state of New York for example was initially intended as a plagiarism trap and actually exists now: In 1930 the founder of a road map publisher and his assistent drew a place named by their initials (Otto G. Lindberg and Ernest Alpers) at an intersection in the Catskill Mountains. However, twenty years later after a general store settled there and was named after the fictious place (as Agloe General Store) Agloe was declared as existent by the court in an actual copyright litigation. So fiction became to reality subsequently.

The manipulation of the map, the inventing of places, streets and geographical characteristics can only work if cartographic conventions are complied, if the elements can be accepted as a part of the entire map. The nonexistent information is credible by its design. So what happens if all content data are fictitious and only design decisions are allowed? Can maps named as such if the information they should display is negated? An infor-mation carrier without information? What happens if programs draw maps based on random generated content, without any political, topographical, real facts and create entire nonexistent landscapes? Information becomes abstract, the randomly generated representations are open to interpretation. The parts created by the programs can be combined so that the random generated places get attributed with a similar credibility as the plagiarism traps that seem to be real. The city, location or geographical feature is no longer solely the made-up component in a real environment—everything is made-up. Nothing can be manipulated deliberately because everything is manipulated, everything is random. The map itself is presented as an aestetic, no longer convenient medium. Phantom towns and landscapes are created to non-exist. The atlas shows the results and usages of programs and generators that construct nonexistent places, cities, landscapes and geographical features that can be filled freely with own information, that recall cartographic conventions abstractly and have not any meaning, exept their nonexistent existence.

The coincident ist the most determinative component, because it is the direct contrast to the actual intention of a map. Maps shall be, at best, the optimal projection of the real world, at least when used for localization, route guidance or as serious information carrier. The facts are dictated by the reality. Without these facts maps can be generated that allow unreal appearances, involve unpredictability and enable impossibilities: errors that should be avoided at precise cartography are creating new forms here and details that enhance the abstract representation, unlike real geographical images, more than harming them.

Among others, topographic basic maps as well as height maps, city plans and geographic representations of all kinds can be generated with the programs. A few parameters, mainly affecting the visual design of the map, can be set previously. All other values determine the results are chosen by the code randomly or by probabilities. By that each program enables a variety of different results. In further steps these can be legitimized by combining them with the arbitrary results of generators. Name generators print fictitious names of places. Both scales and highway numbers can be generated as well as elevations or coordinates. Economic maps can gain meaning and possibilities for interpretation with added symbols. Also, the additional use of conventional cartographic characters creates various opportunities for subsequent design and changes. And yet the maps do not have any value of information, no matter how many additional elements find place. However, some programs or their results can be combined with existing maps because some cartographic conventions are adhered.

The generated maps can be printed with the help of an optional drawing machine. An additional abstraction is conditional by this output device allowing another random component. Nonexisting terrain and places are reinterpreted and created by an unusual way of visualising, subsequently inserted data disguised. The drawing machine is a way to leave any decision regarding map design entirely to programs. With that, unpredictable errors—starting point of the whole investigation—are formed just like by the generating programs.

read more →
i
X
Pixels cut their arbitrary, uncontrollable ways in eight possible directions across an area of prede-fined dimensions. Their semi-transparent trails overlapping or roughly retracing earlier paths leave the impression of a terrain of varying altitude. Land areas result from this colouring while empty areas that can be interpreted as sea or otherwise uncharted territory are represented by the untouched open space of the canvas. A jiggling perimeter around predefined coordinates with a given base radius is filled with red to form a special locality such as a city. On reaching the boundaries of the canvas these ‘searcher’ pixels rebound and take a different path back. Since it’s only the coordinates that can be specified and the paths that the searchers take are entirely random, the outcome is totally unpredictable. Sometimes the given locations of cities aren’t reached at all. That’s why we’re providing a real-time animation of the creation process as part of the programme better comprehensibility.
Map_01
i
X
The placement of mountains on a topographical map results from a predefined set of coordinates. The number of elevations is likewise given before-hand. The terrain seemingly raises through a random number of layers. If lower, growing layers of two elevations collide, they join up, and if they are close enough they form mountain ranges and enclose valleys. Parameters define the colours for individual height layers, summits and the background canvas. More parameters determine for example the maximum base area of a mountain, the offset of the summit and the randomised skew of the individual, originally circular layers, to change the appearance of each mountain. Moreover it is possible to illustrate the structure of an elevation with additional grid lines from base to summit that link up all the layers of a formation. With an appropriate choice of colour the same structure can be redefined to form a depression or any area of effect.
Map_02
i
X
The versatile usage as a module aside, this programme allows for the rendering of a town from the bird’s eye perspective. Roads, buildings, their arrangement, size and rotation, as well as the city outline are random, as is the placement of the generated locality in the context of a map. The only customisable set of parameters is the colouring. This reduced rendering intentionally leaves room for interpretation. An area marking the town centre is optionally available and calculated from the average position and number of buildings. Across town leads a winding road connecting two opposing edges of the map display.
Map_03
i
X
The share of the cartographic material dealing with economy is not to be underestimated. The programme generating economic maps does not only base visualisation on supposed economic sectors, social structure and size proportions, but also incorporates towns, districts and a road network. The rendering allows for random or predefined colouring and is reduced with respect to design aspects, but thus also open for a variety of possible interpretations.
Map_04
i
X
Similar to the previously presented economic map, this display is dominated by coloured areas. These could represent cultivated landscape, agricultural economy structures or business types as well as complex spatial planning or markings of land tenure. Boundaries are rendered as curves. Randomly shaped black areas of varying size mark settlements, that can be placed exactly with provided coordinates. Thus generated localities are interconnected by a road network that stretches all across the map. The default mode for colouring is random, but that can be changed and customised. The modules f_latitude and f_river can optionally be used to extend on the features of the economic maps generated. Moreover name and symbol generating algorithms can add their data.
Map_05
i
X
Dot density maps are particularly suited for rendering an apportionment or similar proportional display. The algorithm divides the total area into square sections of predefined size. These are subsequently filled with varyingly dense sets of randomly distributed black dots, according to assignable probabilities, resulting in a representation of proportions spread over the entire grid. There is the option of having white areas, which produces concentration areas with higher density around a given set of coordinates and with a variable distance to that point. Once the entire grid has been assigned its dots, the road system with a given line weight is randomly generated and the total area is fringed with patches of white. The map thus rendered illustrates proportions within a freely definable frame of meaning in a seemingly zoomed-in segment of a settlement.
Map_06
i
X
These circle maps offer a concentric top view on a pseudo-terrain. A given number of semi-transparent areas stack to form a landmass around the centre of the map. The generated areas are based on a circular shape and a predefined number of curve nodes, parametrised to be offset at random. The heavily abstract, seemingly organic shapes thus obtain a diffuse expression.
Map_07
i
X
Halftone areas reach across the whole width of the canvas stacking randomly to create an impression of elevated terrain. They add up to structures that can potentially be interpreted as mountain ranges, cross sections or wavy surfaces. The width of the canvas for this type of map is divided evenly into a random number of of sections, that serve as anchor for individual height nodes. The accordingly generated semi-transparent surfaces overlap to form layers and gradients of black by default, or any other colour of choice. White hairlines frame these areas interconnecting anchor nodes and fall their perpendicular to the x-axis or base line of the canvas. The resulting structure seems almost architectural in effect and can be freely interpreted or customised. Possible parameters for this algorithm define for example the maximum height of individual layers, or the minimal number of height anchor nodes.
Map_08
i
X
Randomly shaped and interconnected polygons in different shades represent a top view on a section of terrain. The height lines of this supposed island or mountain elevations are projected onto a respective lateral view or horizontal section with white hairlines in turn. Parametrised factors such as posi-tioning, colouring and placement of the height nodes can be used to influence the level of abstraction of the rendering to some extent.
Map_09
i
X
A road network is weaving through the heavily abstract depiction of urban space at random, as are the city outlines aligned to a rough estimation of the urban dimensions. Possible interpretations for maps of this style include spatial planning, city ground plots, history and development as well as political subdivision. The colouring hereby is the only input as it is the crucial factor for the usefulness of the map. The outlines can be deactivated as can the road network that is constructed from the centre of the settlement. Additional content for this map type can be obtained by adding the modules f_latitude for latitudinal and longitudinal lines or f_land for land and water divisions.
Map_010
i
X
Here we render a three-dimensional section of terrain. A wire frame is shaded to express elevations and depressions of a landscape in highlights and shadows. The amplitude of vertical surface distortion can be specified in advance, but where these distortions are applied remains entirely coincidental. Again the decision for the colouring is essential to the potential interpretations of the rendered map: It could be mountain ridges or the churning sea. There is the option to place lines marking certain locations, either at given coordinates or at random. The depth of the ground as shown in the sideways cross-sections can also be defined.
Map_011
i
X
A cross-section of a mountain range, rock layers, a height profile – all of that and more are potential interpretations for the output of this programme. A predefined number of nodes is spread out evenly in horizontal direction but at a randomly varying vertical position. These nodes are connected to form a baseline on which a given or random number of layers is interpolated. The layers are offset randomly again and their freely chosen colours can form a gradient that adds to the overall impression of elevation or height. White hairlines connecting all nodes of baseline and the interpolated layers form a mesh that does not only simulate a surface structure but also adds the impression of unevenness and natural irregularities. Presentation on a black canvas-background enforces the informal character of the depiction.
Map_012
i
X
Using the programme one can generate a variety of different topographical maps: This type focuses on valleys. There are eight base types of valleys which are then modified to follow random curved paths. Optionally, the paths can be displayed to symbolise a road or river, but at the same time they are always the base for interpolating the surrounding terrain. Built-up in a varying, random number of layers there appear surrounding heights, or depressions depending on the choice of colour. The algorithm is able to adapt to varying canvas sizes and allows for the creation of detailed terrain. A simple mode of display completely reduced to lines can be used to later on combine the output with any other external map material. The lines originally meant to represent layers can bed adapted in design to rather indicate radii or representations of other types of information.
Map_013
i
X
On a square section a three-dimensional terrain is represented by interdependently generated blocks of varying height, based on a two-dimensional grid. Certain coordinates — either randomly chosen by the programme, or user-defined — represent more prominent features of the terrain. Mountains forming around those collide in their sideways extension to form mountain ranges and valleys between them. A single simulated light-source providing highlights and shadows allows for a realistic three-dimensional effect adding structure and depth. The viewing angle can be controlled by the user as can the panning of the terrain section. Changing the density of the base grid allows for different size square bases for the individual blocks. The rough, geometric nature of the generated terrain leaves room for reinterpretation such as for distributive infographics.
Map_014
i
X
One of the most striking maps is the generated, schematic city map. A grid is filled with tiles made of predefined image files. The programme’s choice of image depends on the neighbouring tiles in order to allow for a logical arrangement. At first the base shape of the locality is defined in a colour freely chosen. The area grows randomly from the centre and extends in all directions limited by certain probability values. In a second step the road network is drawn in a similar fashion and rendered in the colour of the canvas-background on top of the city outline. This leads to the perception of quarters, neighbourhoods and a town centre. The coarse structures and simple geometry favour realistic depictions of smaller scale towns. The image files used for the tiles can be supplemented or modified with external tools, to adapt the city map to specific requirements or add geographical features and characteristics.
Map_015
Economic generator
corn
generate
Name generator
Coldland
generate
Pattern generator
cemetery
generate
Symbol generator
generate
The access code is located under the section «Download» in the Atlas.
You need to install Processing before using the programs.
  • f_city
  • f_land
  • f_latitude
  • f_river
  • f_roads

  • Color Picker
  • Coordinate generator
  • Economic generator
  • Generator for heights, streets and scale
  • Name generator
  • Pattern generator
  • Symbol generator
Type I
Pure typographic map I
(Example – image is picked randomly.)
Dimensions
  • A4
    (210 x 297mm) 15€
  • A3
    (297 x 420mm) 25€
  • A2
    (420 x 594mm) 50€
Color
Your eMail-adress:
Type II
Pure typographic map II
(Example – image is picked randomly.)
Dimensions
  • A4
    (210 x 297mm) 15€
  • A3
    (297 x 420mm) 25€
  • A2
    (420 x 594mm) 50€
Color
Your eMail-adress:
Type III
Typographic map with labels
(Example – image is picked randomly.)
Dimensions
  • A4
    (210 x 297mm) 15€
  • A3
    (297 x 420mm) 25€
  • A2
    (420 x 594mm) 50€
Color
Labels
  • Deutsch
  • Englisch
  • Zufällig
Your eMail-adress:
Maria Sieradzki
2016
sieradzki.maria@gmail.com