Chapter 6. The Geographic Beauty of a Photographic Archive

Jason Dykes

Jo Wood

PHOTOGRAPHS CAN BE BEAUTIFUL. IT SEEMS ALMOST DEMEANING TO CONSIDER SOMETHING THAT CAN capture experience, kindle emotion, and invoke the sublime merely as data. Yet once stored digitally, we can process a photograph's binary digits just as we might any other stream of numeric data. But we can go further: by collecting those photographic representations together, by arranging them, by describing them, we can create context and a new beauty emerges, something that is fed by the beauty of the images that comprise the collection, but which is so much more than the sum of its parts.

In this chapter we explore the beauty that emerges when we consider the geography of a photographic collection, and we examine that geography visually with maps and other graphics. By geography we mean the information that allows us to associate something with a place or location (two quite distinct concepts). And when we're dealing with data, there's a lot of geography about. Some estimates suggest that up to 80% of data is geographic (MacEachren and Kraak 2001). This information might be recorded directly through latitude and longitudinal coordinates, or indirectly though association with a postal code, a name, or some other notion of place. This geography can be a useful way of organizing, filtering, and interpreting data. The geography recorded in the growing number of large contributed data sets may be a particularly useful ...

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