Cartesian Grids and Coordinates.

The grid is an amazing technology.

With it we can create an abstract space and we describe any point within that space. If we lay a really large grid over an actual object or place we can describe any place in the surface of that object or place.

What more we can use the grid to describe an object or space. If we record all the features of an object or space on the grid we’ve made a map.

Once we’ve made that map we can draw it at any size we like. As long as it has the same objects in the same squares on the grid we are not going to get lost.

The map is an abstraction of the real space it represents.

Grids are fundamental to the computers and computer graphics. If we can represent a real world place we can also create a virtual space by telling the computer what to draw where.

The screen you and I are looking at now is a cartesian grid of pixels that are told to light up in a particular way in order to represent information – this one in front of me is 2304 pixels wide and 1440 pixels high.

But that is only the beginning because in information space we create a new imagined axis on that screen that imagines space stretching out into the virtual space inside/behind the screen – just as it does when we play can first person shooter.

Now we have an X, Y and Z . This new Axis doesn’t actually exist in the real world – we still only have a screen with an X and Y axis but we’ve drawn another axis in and in the process we’ve created another dimension.

While before we could represent information by telling the monitor which pixels along the X and Y to light up now we can specify the size of the areas to light up according to the objects depth.

This is how the cartesian grid gives rise to the virtual worlds of our computer screens – Once we add that third dimension new worlds become possible. Its pretty exciting stuff.