Minimal Maps is an ongoing project that explores how richly-detailed single subject maps can give us new imagery to understand our landscape. The data is accurate for the year 2014 and explores the American (lower 48 states) landscape as a whole entity. The project is a continuation of the work began in 2012 while at Archework's Chicago Expander Workshops, where I was a research fellow.

The data provided by the USDA is incredible and includes a tremendous wealth of information that makes up the composition of America. By pulling this data and extrapolating specific categories I've been able to produce a number of unique and explicit maps that aim to push us away from the ubiquitous and low-resolution (regarding information content) physical and political map.


Google has dramatically changed how we are able to understand the world through maps. From global satellite photography down to over 5 million miles of street-level imagery, the ability for a person to find detailed images of a location has never been simpler. And while this incredible undertaking has changed how we are able to find and explore places, our understanding of our landscapes as a whole has stayed unchanged. While these maps allow us to view an entire country's landscape, they are still simply either political or physical. 

For instance, corn fields take up 91 million acres of the American landscape. This is a staggering 4.83% of the contiguous United States.* While hearing that value is quite astounding, there is little way right now for us to visualise what 4.83% of the American landscape looks like, or furthermore, where this land is. By focussing each map on a single subject, we are able to better visualise and understand our landscape. 

Minimal Maps are an ongoing research project by Michael Pecirno.

*Data based on 2,959,064.44mi^2 of land (excluding water) (α) in the contiguous United States and approximately 143,125mi^2 (ß) of cornfields as of 2014.
α -
ß –

Data is accurate for the year 2014 and has been collected from the USDA's CropScape Program at: