About Jake Coolidge
I’ve recently relocated to Chicago and am currently engaged in freelance cartography and GIS consulting. Up until January 2013, I was the Geospatial Historian at the Spatial History Project at Stanford University, where I provided training in GIS and cartographic design and advised research projects in a lab environment. I completed a Master of Arts in Geography at San José State University, during which time I was a Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Planning Intern at the City of Oakland. My academic research interests focus on cartographic design and history. Maps, like written documents, are imperfect and subjective human creations; studying these visual documents can reveal the intentions and/or biases of the map authors and point to their reliability. In my own cartographic work, I’ve explored how to incorporate the dimension of time in order to depict changes in geographic distributions, using both static multiples and animated presentations. Each map project is an opportunity to explore cartographic design issues related to projection and areal extent, scale and generalization, text placement, symbolization of categories and quantitative data, among others. Cartographers are presented with an infinite number of design choices, and happily, the number of maps needed to help us understand our world is only increasing.
My artistic works explore ideas of landscape as an external reality, comprised of human and natural elements, which is then interpreted and internalized by the person experiencing that landscape. These works are primarily manifested as sonic pieces, comprised of layers of distorted bass drones. In addition, I continue to work with 2-dimensional imagery on occasion. Increasingly my visual works seek a dialog between my recent cartographic work and older, more personal ruminations on landscape and portraiture. Or I simply wish to use my cartographic training to create maps of alternate realities and external/internal phenomena: a visual language waiting to be continually reinterpreted and harnessed to explore new unmapped territories.
Jake Coolidge grew up in the northwestern United States and studied printmaking at the University of Washington in Seattle. When not working on his studio art degree or his geography minor, he started collaborating with other musicians in a variety of post-rock projects. Upon relocating to Los Angeles in 2004 he was essentially a strange solo musician in a strange land. This afforded him the opportunity to begin exploring the abstract bass guitar noise compositions that have come to define his work as a musician since. He moved to the Bay Area in 2006 with a rekindled interest in geography and cartographic design, and began collaborating with visual artist Peter Foucault, providing droning soundscapes that compliment Foucault’s meditative, abstract compositions. Coolidge has also played live on the air from the studio at KFJC, a bastion of experimental radio broadcasting from Los Altos Hills, CA. In one of his recent geographic research projects, he conceptualizes a community-generated, web-based map of sound powered by pervasive computing technology, linking geography and the evocative nature of soundscape.