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In the December issue of QST Magazine
|| 11/16/2008 || 5:57 pm || Comments Off on In the December issue of QST Magazine || ||

Vintage advertisement from the December 1966 issue of QST Magazine for Heath Company’s Ham Radios

QST magazine is the most widely read Amateur Radio publication in the country. Since 1915, QST has been delivering the latest news and practical information from the world of Amateur Radio. In September I was contacted about supplying a map similar to the one in the photograph above for an upcoming advertisement in the magazine. While I didn’t have the original map shown above, I was able to print a copy of my “New Blaeu” map for Brian Wood of the DZ Company. The advertisement below is featured in the December edition of QST Magazine on page 150. If you see it on the newsstands, please pick up a copy! Click the advertisement below to be taken to www.dzkit.com


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Gloria Immortalis Labore Parta
|| 9/13/2008 || 11:32 pm || Comments Off on Gloria Immortalis Labore Parta || ||

Immortal glory is brought forth by labor
Undying fame is born of hard work
Labor will be rewarded by eternal glory
immortal glory is the fruit of hard work and anguish

The other day I discovered a cache of digitized rare books at the Le Service Intertablissements de Cooperation Documentaire (SICD) at the Universities of Strasbourg. While skimming through Johannes Kepler‘s Prodromus dissertationum cosmographicarum, continens Mysterium cosmographicum (1622 edition), I found the emblem above on the title page of the Apologia (full page below). After this work, Kepler only published the Rudolphine Tables, which was the most up to date star catalog of the time, and Somnium, which is cited as the first literary work of science fiction.

The original emblem, copied by the publishers of the book (and by me above & below), was originally created by Hadrianus Junius 57 years earlier as EMBLEMA III in his graphic arts book Emblemata (1565). Although he currently only has a Dutch wikipedia entry, I wonder how many other books copied his various emblems?

The paragraph below from Page 86 of The French Book by Henri-Jean Martin, Paul Saenger, Nadine Saenger (1996) gives instructions on how to view this emblem:

We may to try to understand how one “read” such a page by examining as an example an emblem from Emblematum libelus of the Flemish doctor Adrianus Junius, published in 1565 by Christopher Plantin at Antwerp. The title Gloria immortalis labore parta signifies that immortal glory is the fruit of hard work and anguish. The image that expresses this idea makes use of four coded symbols: the continuous coiled snake is viewed as a sign of eternity, the crown of laurel symbolizes glory, and the shovel and terrestrial globe symbolize, respectively, labor and human endeavor. If we look above the terrestrial globe (which represents our daily reality), we notice the shovel excavating it. The snake holding the shovel’s handle in his mouth is encircled by the crown of laurels. Thus, a rhetoric of image identical to the rhetoric of discourse animates the different elements of the emblem, which were placed arbitrarily against a rustic background.

Exciting the mind by their obscurity and polysemantic nature, such illustrations seem to belong to the images employed since antiquity to facilitate memorization and to encourage the creative impulse.

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A New & Somewhat Accurate Map of the Tropic of Gemini and the Tropic of Sagittarius
|| 9/4/2008 || 7:11 pm || Comments Off on A New & Somewhat Accurate Map of the Tropic of Gemini and the Tropic of Sagittarius || ||


For the last month I’ve been working on a slightly strange map above. It’s based on Johannes van Loon’s “Scenographia systematis mvndani Ptolemaici” (1660), which includes an “Axis Zodiaci” that shows the signs of Gemini and Sagittarius being slightly more illuminated than Cancer & Capricorn (see below). This shading possibly indicates that the author was aware of natural movement of the earth since the time of Ptolemy (~125 A.D.).

A new & somewhat accurate map of the Tropic of Sagittarius and the Tropic of Gemini was created using two maps of the Tropics from Wikipedia. I added the glyphs of the Zodiac over the meridians, but unlike the antique map below, I moved the signs backwards. The word “tropic” itself comes from the Greek tropos, meaning turn, referring to the fact that the sun appears to “turn back” at the solstices. I have read that in 1989 the Tropic of Gemini moved into the constellation of Taurus, which technically means it should be the “Tropic of Taurus,” but to keep the circle of animals in exact opposition, I kept the tropic in Gemini, hence “somewhat accurate.”

Close-up detail of A New & Somewhat Accurate Map of the Tropic of Gemini and the Tropic of Sagittarius

For hundreds of years cartographers have included the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer on nearly all globes and world maps. Yet with the natural movement of the earth through space & time, the solstices are not located in the constellations of Capricorn or Cancer anymore. So why do cartographers continue to label the maps & globes using this incorrect information? Does cartographic tradition trump astronomical observation? Should contemporary maps be changed to reflect the passage of time? Are there any antique maps that place the Tropics in any other constellations? Leave your comments below.

Johannes van Loon’s “Scenographia systematis mvndani Ptolemaici” (1660)



Postscript: I believe I was incorrect in my analysis above. I failed to take into account the sideral.


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Tabvla Festorvm – Table of important Catholic dates from Opera Mathematica
|| 8/13/2008 || 6:32 pm || Comments Off on Tabvla Festorvm – Table of important Catholic dates from Opera Mathematica || ||

Page 394 in the Fifth Volume of Chrisopher Clavius’s Opera Mathematica (1612)
Courtesy of the Mathematics Library at the University of Notre Dame

One of the chief architects of the Gregorian Calendar was Jesuit mathematician & astronomer Chrisopher Clavius. In his “Romani calendarii a Gregorio XIII restituti explicatio” (Rome, 1603) he explained the process behind the creation of the Gregorian Calendar. The table above shows the contemporary dates of the Pentecost, Septuagesima, the Paschal Full Moon as well as some other calculations that are hardly used today. Shortly after his death in 1612, this explanation was republished in volume five of Opera Mathematica.

This volume, known as the explanation of the Gregorian Calendar, literally features hundreds upon hundreds of charts like the one above that show the Roman Calendar going thousands of years into the future. Seriously, its truly amazing how far into the future his tables go! If I had some more time to dabble around with his calculations, it would be neat to see how far they are off after nearly 400 years.


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Gregorius XIII – Pont(ifex) Opt(imus) Maximus / Anno Restituto MDLXXXII
|| 8/12/2008 || 2:27 pm || Comments Off on Gregorius XIII – Pont(ifex) Opt(imus) Maximus / Anno Restituto MDLXXXII || ||

“Pope Gregory XIII / Year of Restitution 1582”
Minted in 1582 to celebrate the creation of the new Roman calendar,
which later became known as the Gregorian Calendar

The other day I was reading about the Gregorian Calendar and stumbled across this coin that was created the year of the calendar reform. It features a portrait of Pope Gregory XIII on the front, and on the back this is dragon eating it’s tail surrounding a ram’s head. The dragon is called an Ouroboros, which I named my recent time lapse video, and as I mentioned before, it represents the cyclicality of time surrounded by the Egyptian Sun God Amun, who’s name means “the one who is hidden.” I find this symbology very interesting because what we consider today to be pagan symbols were used to mark the creation of their perfect calendar— the calendar we use today.

In my opinion, the Ouroboros represents the Milky Way and the Ram represents the sun, and by creating a perfect calendar the sun & the cosmos were finally set in perfect harmony. Except one thing, and in my opinion, the most important part of it all, the perfect calendar removes the importance of natural precession. As in, as the dragon devours its tail, it slowly moves in a circle, and that circle represents the earth’s slow precession backwards through the zodiac. By keeping the months standardized, the natural movement of the Earth is not accounted for in our modern calendar because the Gregorian Calendar standardized the timing of the Paschal Full Moon so all Christians could celebrate Easter on the same day. With that sense of natural drift removed, the understanding behind the Earth’s natural movement around the sun and the origins of why ancients used the Zodiac was diminished.

A good example of this natural drift is the removal of 10 days from October in 1582. Part of this was due to the Julian calendar‘s natural error, but in my opinion, a partial correction in regards to natural drift. In the last 426 years at an average drift of 1 degree every 71.6 years, the earth has precessed approximately 6 degrees since the calendar’s creation. If each sign in the Zodiac is 30 Degrees, then the earth has moved 1/5 of its way through the age since the calendar’s creaction. Interesting stuff! What’s really funny is what I posted here exactly one year ago today.


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My Artomatic 2008 Opening Night Exhibit Dissected on Flickr
|| 5/27/2008 || 2:50 pm || Comments Off on My Artomatic 2008 Opening Night Exhibit Dissected on Flickr || ||

I’ve never been a fan of Flickr. I dislike how photos are lifted from Flickr all the time without proper citation. One of my biggest annoyances regarding my artwork or other people’s work is when it’s posted on-line with no link back or extra information regarding the artist or the circumstances regarding the image’s origin. Instead you get “neat huh?” “Cool photo!” “Look at this!” etc and while it’s great that more eyes are seeing the image, it undermines the artist’s visibility because the citation is not always accurately presented. A good example of this lack of information can be seen at the social image bookmarking website FFFFOUND!. This lack of citation is not the case 100% of the time, but its the main reason why I don’t upload my artwork to Flickr. Since I have ample server space and nearly unlimited bandwidth I’ve never needed another repository for my images.

I also don’t like the stalker ability that comes with having all of your photographs on-line for strangers to look at and download. I won’t name names, but I’ve looked through some Flickr photostreams of some of my friends and have found that the photos offer far too much information about their lives, activities, and friends. You can look through someone’s photos and see their exes, the interior of their homes, and basically just about anything the person decided to place out there for strangers to view. Worse is that you cannot access the information regarding where your photographs are viewed from. Since I have access to my website’s server logs I can find exactly how many times a photograph has been looked at and by what IP addresses. This information is shielded from the Flickr user and dumbed down to a lowly view counter.

With those reservations aside, I decided to play nice and upload one photograph of my Artomatic 2008 exhibit taken on May 9th. I went through and tagged the photograph twelve times showcasing the content that has been placed on top of the Base Map. Since I embedded quite a few links into the notes, I’ll be able to track exactly who clicks on the image and know with a certain amount of certainty how many times the photograph has been looked at and where the photograph is being looked at from– if they click.

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Tabvla Temporis [Semidiurni in fignis Borealibus / Australibus]
|| 5/25/2008 || 12:17 am || Comments Off on Tabvla Temporis [Semidiurni in fignis Borealibus / Australibus] || ||

This is the reverse side of Willem Janszoon Blaeu’s Nova totius terrarum orbis geographica ac hydrographica tabula (Amsterdam 1606) which I used in my recent creation A New & Arabesque Map of the Hirshhorn Museum. If you look closely, you can see the reverse of original map that bled through the paper after couple hundred years and some image manipulation. The table shown is similar to an Ephemeris, which is table of values that gives the positions of astronomical objects in the sky at a given time. I would love for someone to sit and explain the way one goes about reading these types of antique charts. I understand a fair amount of what is being shown, but I do not fully grasp how to apply the calculations.



A New & Arabesque Map of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
|| 5/23/2008 || 10:43 am || Comments Off on A New & Arabesque Map of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden || ||


:: saved at 6,480 x 5,040 ::

To celebrate the new procedure I decided to get around to editing the Library of Congress‘ copy of Willem Janszoon Blaeu‘s Nova totius terrarum orbis geographica ac hydrographica tabula, which was published in Amsterdam in 1606. I removed the original map from the center and kept the decorative border similar to Nova et Accvratissima Totivs Terrarvm Orbis Tabvla, A New Map of the Terraqueous Globe : according to the the Ancient discoveries and most general Divisions of Geospatial Art, America as a Cloverleaf, and A New And Accurate Map of the World by John Speed. However, unlike the previous antique map mash-ups, which usually feature the earth laid out in two hemispheres, this map uses a rectangular space (Mercator?). The beauty of this open layout is that I can place any of my previously made maps inside of this 402-year-old template.

A common naming practice I’ve noticed in old map is the use of “New & Accurate” and since I like to play around with words, I changed Accurate to Arabesque to create a visual pun. The source map was about 6,500 pixels wide, I underlaid a rotated 9,000 x 6,000 copy of Hirshhorn Quilt to fit perfectly in the center of the new map. I think it would be fun to actually hand-color the engravings on this map to match other copies of this map which have the various figures colored in. The LOC’s copy is uncolored which means that its actually easier to add color to it than if it were already colored because pigment matching is not needed.



: detail of the planet Goddess Venus :

Across the top (left to right) you have the planet gods:

Drawn within each of these engravings are the signs of the Zodiac that the planets rule:

Below I dissect the rest of the border of the map:

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Of (the Tartars) manners both good and bad (around 400 years ago)
|| 4/19/2008 || 3:26 pm || Comments Off on Of (the Tartars) manners both good and bad (around 400 years ago) || ||

1732 Map of Great Tartary by Herman Moll
Obtained from the David Rumsey Map Collection

Today’s entry follows up my successful layout of Ovid’s Remedia Amoris / The Cure for Love and employs the same side by side Latin / English text. Below you will find Chapter 5 of Richard Hakluyt’s The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation – Volume 2 published 1598-1600 in London, England.

Richard Hakluyt was an English author, editor, translator, and personal chaplain to Sir Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, principal Secretary of State to Elizabeth I and James I. A great history of his life and works can be found in his Wikipedia entry. Most notably, he was one of the biggest advocates for English colonization of Virginia. Some of his other exploration-related works include the Discovery of Muscovy, Voyagers Tales, Voyages in Searth of the North-West Passage, and numerous similar volumes related to The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation (Project Gutenberg lists a total of 12 volumes altogether).

In the chapter below he describes the manners of the people of Tartary. This antiquated geographic name was used by Europeans from the Middle Ages until the twentieth century to designate the great tract of northern and central Asia stretching from the Caspian Sea and the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean (see map above). Inhabited by Turkic and Mongol peoples of the Mongol Empire who were generically referred to as “Tartars”, the present day geography includes the current areas of Siberia, Turkestan (including East Turkestan), Greater Mongolia, and parts China. In many ways the book reminds me of how an antiquarian National Geographic article might have read. The aim of this book, and many of his other works, was to consolidate what others had written about different regions around the known world and in doing so help spread the diffusion of geographic & ethnographic knowledge.

Lastly, in regards to the transcription below, I did not modify the original Project Gutenberg text, so when reading please note that there are some typographic differences in the old English and contemporary English. Remember to change the lowercase V to a lowercase U and in some cases, change the I’s to J’s. I did consider updating the text to modern English, but in some ways I feel that it would be better to keep the text in it’s originally transcribed format. Unlike Ovid’s Remedia Amoris / The Cure for Love, I did not include the line numbers because they were not given in the original text. I did, however, separate the text into easy to read paragraphs. If you are reading this entry via Google Reader, the chapter can be better read by hiding the sidebar that shows your subscriptions by clicking the small arrow on the left separator or by pressing “u” on your keyboard to switch to wide screen.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did:

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The first Artomatic prints have arrived
|| 4/9/2008 || 12:30 pm || Comments Off on The first Artomatic prints have arrived || ||

Federal Triangle Quilt #3 with Chinese Signature

Federal Triangle Quilt #3 with Chinese signature

Using some of the funds from my DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities 2008 Young Artist Grant, I purchased the first set of prints that will be shown at next month’s Artomatic exhibition.

One of Kodak’s newest products is their fleece blanket, which is 100% polyester, machine washable, and frankly, are a very good deal at about $45 each. I’ve been waiting a long time to print my maps on large media cost-effectively and fortunately the size of these blankets match the aspect ratio of my maps (3:2) so I can upload my 9,000 x 6,000-sized maps (one half the original rendering size) without any extra image manipulation. Or so I thought.

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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