You might recall our earlier look at the work of Dutch photographer Gerco de Ruijter, who has been documenting the landscape phenomenon known as “grid corrections,” or where the U.S. road system is forced to deviate in order to account for the curvature of the Earth.

De Ruijter has now animated many dozens of those photos, with a soundtrack by Michel Banabila, into a one-minute video, embedded above. Watch roads tick into and out alignment across the American plains, as a grid of rectilinear lines faces geometric defeat on the surface of a sphere.

(Read more over at Travel + Leisure).


[Image: From “Cropped” by Gerco de Ruijter; view larger].

The images of “Grid Corrections” seen in the previous post reminded me of an earlier project, also by photographer Gerco de Ruijter, called “Cropped,” previously seen here back in 2012.

[Image: From “Cropped” by Gerco de Ruijter; view larger].

The images seen here are all satellite views of pivot irrigation systems, taken from Google Earth and cleaned up by de Ruijter for display and printing.

[Images: From “Cropped” by Gerco de Ruijter; view larger].

The resulting textures look like terrestrial LPs disintegrating into the landscape, or vast alien engravings slowly being consumed by sand—

[Image: From “Cropped” by Gerco de Ruijter; view larger].

—and they are, at times, frankly so beautiful it’s almost hard to believe these landscapes were not deliberately created for their aesthetic effects.

[Image: From “Cropped” by Gerco de Ruijter; view larger].

Granted, de Ruijter has color-corrected these satellite shots and pushed the saturation, but as metaphorical gardens of pure color and hue, the original pivotscapes are themselves already quite extraordinary.

[Image: From “Cropped” by Gerco de Ruijter; view larger].

For a few more examples of these—posted at a much-larger, eye-popping size—click through to the Washington Post or consider watching the original film, called “Crops,” here on BLDGBLOG.

[Images: From “Cropped” by Gerco de Ruijter; view larger].

[Previously: Grid Corrections].

Grid Corrections

[Image: From “Grid Corrections” by Gerco de Ruijter, courtesy of the Ulrich Museum of Art].

In case this is of interest, I’ve got a new article up over at Travel + Leisure about photographer Gerco de Ruijter. De Ruijter recently undertook an exploration of sites in the North American landscape where the Jeffersonian road grid is forced to go askew in order to account for the curvature of the Earth.

[Image: From “Grid Corrections” by Gerco de Ruijter, courtesy of the Ulrich Museum of Art].

De Ruijter is already widely known for his work documenting grids and other signs of human-induced geometry in the landscape, from Dutch tree farms to pivot irrigation systems, which gives this new focus an interestingly ironic air.

[Image: From “Grid Corrections” by Gerco de Ruijter, courtesy of the Ulrich Museum of Art].

In other words, these are places where a vision of geometric perfection—a seemingly infinite grid, dividing equal plots of land for everyone, extending sea to shining sea—collides with the reality of a spherical planet and must undergo internal deviations.

Those are the “grid corrections” of de Ruijter’s title, and they take the form of otherwise inexplicable T-intersections and zigzag turns in the middle of nowhere.

[Image: From “Grid Corrections” by Gerco de Ruijter, courtesy of the Ulrich Museum of Art].

The project includes a series of spherical panoramas de Ruijter made using kite photography at specific corrective intersections outside Wichita, in effect distorting the distortions, a kind of topographical reverb.

[Images: From “Grid Corrections” by Gerco de Ruijter, courtesy of the Ulrich Museum of Art].

And there is also a further sub-series of satellite images—all taken from Google Earth—stitched together to show intersections where grid corrections occur.

[Image: “Canada/USA 2015 Grid Correction Leota Minnesota,” from “Grid Corrections” by Gerco de Ruijter, courtesy of the Ulrich Museum of Art].

The actual article explains in more detail what these grid corrections are, why they exist in the first place, and how often they appear, including references to James Corner’s Taking Measures Across the American Landscape and to a 2007 post on Alexander Trevi’s blog, Pruned.

[Image: From “Grid Corrections” by Gerco de Ruijter, courtesy of the Ulrich Museum of Art].

For more, then, not only check out the Travel + Leisure piece, but click around on de Ruijter’s own website—and, if you’re in The Netherlands, stop by the Van Kranendonk Gallery in The Hague tomorrow, Saturday, December 12th, to see a few examples from “Grid Corrections” on display.

Offworld Glaciology

[Image: Photo by Gerco de Ruijter, via but does it float].

A short article by Sam Kean for the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia explores the world of “bizarro ice—ice that burns, ice that sinks instead of floating, ice literally out of this world.” For the most part, these are ices that have formed under extraordinary pressure, whether naturally or artificially applied, which “forc[es] H2O molecules into rhombuses, tetragons, and other alternative geometries.”

In some cases, the pressure is so great that the resulting ice “can stay solid at temperatures of thousands of degrees—a true freezer burn. If you could somehow plop chunks of these ices into a glass of liquid water, they’d vaporize it.” Incredibly, we read that, “at super-high pressures, some chemists predict that ice transforms into a metal.”

There is an ice “that’s structurally similar to diamonds,” Kean explains, that “probably exists in the upper atmosphere.” And there are exotic ices on other planets: “The dense, hot interiors of Neptune and Uranus probably contain chunks of nonhexagonal ices, as do exoplanets around distant stars, a potentially important consideration as we search for life beyond our solar system.”

[Image: The Sea of Ice by Caspar David Friedrich].

This latter remark brings to mind a book I downloaded in my recent PDF binge called The Science of Solar System Ices, edited by Murthy S. Gudipati and Julie Castillo-Rogez. It’s a mammoth book—more than 650 pages—that explores exotic ices found in comets, on exoplanets, on moons, and elsewhere in our solar system.

“The largest deposits of carbon dioxide ice,” we learn, “is on Mars. Sulfur dioxide ice is found in the Jupiter system. Nitrogen and methane ices are common beyond the Uranian system. Saturn’s moon Titan probably has the most complex active chemistry involving ices, with benzene and many tentative or inferred compounds,” including a long list of chemicals I can’t even pronounce let alone recognize or describe, forming ices with “unusual colors and spectral shapes.” There are even “organic” ices made of hydrocarbons.

[Image: The Monk by the Sea by Caspar David Friedrich].

How these ices produce landscapes is by far the most interesting aspect here, at least from the point of view of BLDGBLOG: how they glaciate, experience gravitational tides and weathering, melt from below due to volcanoes, reflect the alien skies shining down on them in distorted shapes and angled echoes, and even how they tectonically fracture into karst-like networks of sinkholes and caves.

Imagining snow storms of frozen methane on other planets while thinking about, for example, human artistic traditions of landscape representation, from the Hudson Valley School to Caspar David Friedrich—picturing massive and extraordinary widescreen scenes of glacial hills and valleys steaming in the outer darkness of the solar system and the paintings or photographs or even animated GIFs that might result—would extend the idea of the sublime to non-terrestrial landscapes and the sights they might someday reveal to human explorers.

[Image: Walking into a glacier: “Grindelwald Grotto, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland,” courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division].

Art historians would gaze in awe at offworld glaciers of carbon dioxide ice and howling massifs of frozen nitrogen, where volcanoes erupt not with liquid rock but with “ice slurries” and groundwater exploding onto the landscape with the force of a Kilauea.

Perhaps someday you’ll be able to get a degree in the field of exploratory xenoglaciology, the study of rare and incredible landforms made of frozen chemicals in space.

(“Wild Ice” story spotted via @nicolatwilley).