Contrary to popular belief, much of the world has not been mapped. While satellites orbit around the earth taking hundreds of images each day, there is limited knowledge on what unique features have been captured on those images and even less awareness about the ways in which those features can be found and classified. To raise awareness about some of the modern and increasingly prevalent tools and processes surrounding contemporary geographic discovery and mapping the authors created Aerial Bold, the first map and typeface of the earth.
Composed of letterforms, or alphabet shaped features “written” into the topology of buildings, roads, rivers, trees, lakes and a combination of the above, Aerial Bold is both a global database of human crowd- and algorithmically- sourced letterforms and an opentype format vector font family. The database of letterforms not only includes the letterform classification (e.g. “A”, “B”, “C”, etc), but also other metadata including the features’ location (e.g. city, country). The font, which is a translation of the major letterform archetypes, summarizes the letterform database, making the process of “deriving” data from aerial imagery into a tangible product and showcases one of the many different ways in which satellite imagery can be used in the pursuit of art, design, and science.