Sunday, November 16, 2008


OK, I'm plunging ahead with a new long-term project this month. I figure if I announce it, it may actually happen, so I've started a project blog (45°NE), and put in the following introduction:

I'm embarking on an experiment.

I've been ruminating for a long time about how to express sense of place in maps (I'm a cartographer).

For a few years I've been thinking about how to channel experience of place into a form true both to the objectivity-seeking values of cartography and the personal-expression values of the fine arts (I was a studio arts major in college).

And I've been trying to think of a way to use the 45° N latitude line that runs a block and a half south of my office, right across the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District.

After a thought provoking time at NACIS, I reached the conclusion that the way to open up that 45°N line to experience was through some combination of exploration (more mundanely, "fieldwork") and pilgrimage. In one, there is a specific subset of information one looks to gather; in the other, one is looking for an opening to (in religious terms) grace, the miraculous, the other... the unexpected.


I'm going to start regular monthly traverses of the line, beginning at Central Avenue, walking to the river. I'm going to record the results here. I hope to do the traverses with a variety of people, and in between to contact property owners to discuss with them how the line traverses their property.

Here's a crude GoogleMaps base of the traverse (the blue line shows the approximate actual line; the red shows my estimate of a walkable line on public right of way).

Anyone who wants to join me, drop me a line! Probably the easiest way is via my work email form. Or my cell phone (612-702-1333).
Any and all advice or commentary is welcome.


Ken Wedding said...

It's not directly connected to your 45th parallel project, but you might be interested in the "Degree of Confluence" web project.

The goal is to document visits to land-based intersections of whole-numbered latitude and longitude lines.

natcase said...

Thanks for the note. Cool.

Dug said...

I would guess that most people living there have no idea that they are exactly midway between the equator and North Pole (or are they? - The earth's imperfect shape says maybe not). 45 degrees also means the US/Canada border at Quebec/NY VT. I think that would be an interesting area to traverse - albeit not very convenient for you.
Good luck on our adventure! If I was near Minneapolis I'd love to come for a walk!

natcase said...

Yeah, it's the middle angle between the equator and pole, but the actual halfway point by distance is somewhere north of here. See here for a site on 45° points in Wisconsin and Michigan.