Maps and Power

Maps and Power

Kianna Molino
by kianna on 17 Jun 2020

This project contains the result of the final project of the year of my first year at ESMA (Lyon). The two images were created to glimpse at the story of Marco Cotrugli, a mapmaker who mapped America before its supposed discovery while being persecuted by the Spanish Crown, who stole his original map.

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The Final Year Image: Maps and the Exercise of Power

First Framing Composited

First Framing Raw Render

First Framing: A Glimpse at the Process

This is the result of our final school project of last year's school year, it was produced during the month of May to the beginning of June and consisted of developing from concept to finish the workshop of an artisan. The preproduction started at the beginning of the school year and then the production took place for three weeks. The softwares used for this project were Maya, Renderman, and Photoshop.

In my case I chose to do the workshop of a mapmaker, Marco Cotrugli, a mapmaker who mapped America before its supposed discovery while being persecuted by the Spanish Crown, who stole his original map. The two framings were made so that we could glimpse at two moments in Marco Cotrugli's life: before his family was brutally murdered by the Spanish Crown, and after when he fled the Crown and sailed to find America.

In a few words, Marco Cotrugli is an Italian cartographer who sets sail into the unknown to fabricate maps of places never before seen; covering the true objective behind his trips with the buying and selling of art. In the first framing we see this part of his life, the part who wonders and wanders and is full of life, the warmth of the workshop as his purpose and his home. But He is currently in a precarious situation since, through his own findings and the recollection of the ones acquired from other anonymous travelers, he managed to elaborate a map of the exact location of America and is currently being persecuted by the Spanish Crown, who knowing about the existence of the territory wanted it to remain secret until they considered it was best for this place to be ‘discovered’, being this a part of their orchestrated future conquest. In the second framing, we see my craftsman currently inside his ship, we can see the map above the desk in his workshop illuminated by a fire lamp whose light contrasts with the blue night light of the storm that surrounds the ship, beside the map we find an ‘execution for treason’ notice distributed by the Crown with my craftsman’s name.

In conclusion, through his story I wanted to raise awareness of how much of our ideas are not actually ours but built into the collective consciousness by the continuous sources of political propaganda and overall information meant for manipulation through persuasion, making the need of being critical and able to discern the true intention of the information that surrounds us imperative to our and our society’s development.

Second Framing Composited

Second Framing Raw Render

Second Framing: A Glimpse at the Process

The main challenge of this project, in particular, was finding proper references to work with, since because we needed to stick to a photorealistic look and because the story takes place during the 15th century, there were almost no records of how paintbrushes, inkwells, or even the cabins of the ships looked like. Another challenge of this project was dealing with the fact that almost everything is made out of wood, and everything must look different but part of the same whole at the same time, meaning everything must fit together. Also, making the hair of the paintbrush as well as the quill pen was tricky without knowing how to fabricate hair properly in 3D as I know now. I ended up using several layers of geometry for the paintbrush and then using Renderman's presence on all of them, and for the quill pen I ended up using presence as well, adding specular details in compositing. What I would do differently next time is first taking care of the sea background on the first framing, since it lacks quality and without compositing it lowers the quality of the image. I would also improve the composition of the second framing and better the specular details of the quadrant and the compass. I would also make the wood humid and maybe add some drops of water on the table to give the feeling of a storm surrounding the ship, increasing the feeling of tension.

In conclusion, just as with all the other projects before, I'm amazed at how many things I learned from this project, and it just makes me more excited to discover more and more of the wonders of life out of noticing the little details of the world that surrounds me. 

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