Mapping is more than a handy reference tool: It’s a powerful technique to understand the world. But few people recognize the assumptions and Euro-centric conventions inherent in typical renderings of the earth. As a new project from Pentagram partner Angus Hyland illustrates, “up” is arbitrary for our spherical world.
Last year, Hyland designed a beautiful, “upside down” world map for the company holiday card. This year, he’s transformed it into a booklet and interactive geography quiz you can play online.
Players are asked to identify cities, countries, and lakes from unconventional perspectives or entirely removed from their typical context. Even for avid geography nerds, picking out Japan in a trio of topsy-turvy archipelagos is a mental workout.
Flipping our mental models of countries and continents also underscores an important point. As Pentagram writes on its blog: “This simple act questioned the orthodoxy of the world map; itself a consequence of European explorers eager to place themselves at the centre of the earth.” Give it a whirl here.