Manhattan Cosmographies

Robert Reed Drawing Workshops

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York



Following the invention of the Panoramas and other 360 degree projection apparatuses in the early XIX century, the orograph was an automatic drawing machine developed in 1870 in France by Franz Schrader. It was conceived to draw a precise chart of the Pyrenees mountains. Peak and valley heights were recorded and traced around a 360 view : observer and mechanism were in the center and the drawing took shape around a circle.

Images and perspectives of the streets and avenues of Manhattan, or elevations from the east or Hudson Rivers are well-known and easily recognizable views that suggest  connections of buildings and attractions, streets and orientations, all logically organized following the island’s grid. The objective of  this investigation is to challenge the rational perception of Manhattan’s plan by drawing at 360 view of its buildings and open spaces from  different heights, with the use of a rudimentary orograph. The hand is driven by the logic of the instrument to reimagine unexpected spatial relationships of the built environment.



Credits: Laia Celma