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Julian Jans

Tales of the High Seas

The crossover between art and science in cartography has always intrigued me, ever since poring over charts as a child and daydreaming about distant shores, and for my project I wanted to explore this with digital media — combining my interest in maritime charts with a desire to improve my web development skills to a professional level.

My project proposal evolved into creating an illustrated online chart, to see if I could draw a chart of my own and understand and solve the artistic and technical issues involved. To personalize the chart further I planned to add images that I had captured directly. To create the possibility of producing my own content (and primary research) for a web-based chart, I took the opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream of completing a transatlantic passage on a small yacht; during the Spring of 2008 I completed a 36 day crossing, from St Lucia in the Caribbean to the south coast of England.

The resulting project is a chart covering the northern Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean sea, so far comprising over 18,000 map-tiles created with a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator, with added content rendered dynamically. The site is built with the Ruby on Rails framework, utilizing the Google Maps API.

Whilst little has fundamentally changed in my project since the proposal stage, certain areas have been more concentrated on than others. The concept of using content collected on my trip has certainly given way to the technical aspects of completing my project; the bulk of my coursework has been spent progressing with web development skills, essentially problem solving my original project proposal. In producing my final piece I believe I have achieved my goal of exploring the visual and technical aspects of my original idea and combining art and science in my project.


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