Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Antiquariana: Marshall Islands Sea Charts

The steepness of waves, their pattern of refraction, or the amount of cresting can all indicate location. Star configurations and their movement are markers that can be used with equal reliability. Species of birds that nest on land fly at a variety of distances from shore. Birds also fly at altitudes that make them visible to the human eye far more easily than a low atoll invisible over an unmarked horizon. Sea colors, sounds, water temperature, and phosphorescence change with depth, as do the type and variety of sea creatures that can be observed. Floating debris and smells travel in predictable patterns. Speed can be marked by the time a sail keeps a certain shape matched with the memory of how fast a particular canoe traveled in an equal breeze. Clouds form over land in a manner different from over the sea. This listing could go on at great length. The point is that people living “in place” have the ability to customize a worldview that allows the physical world to become alive with nuance and opportunity.
from “Eye Memory: The Inspiration of Aboriginal Mapping,” by Doug Aberley

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