Dutch photographer and filmmaker Gerco de Ruijter has released a short film called Grid Corrections, which documents how otherwise straight road grids are bent at regular intervals to fit the curvature of the Earth. In the film, de Ruijter demonstrates how grid-aligned roads in the United States are adapted to the Earth’s spherical shape by incorporating what he calls grid corrections, seemingly random turns and twists that deliberately deviate from the grid to allow a rectangular-based planning structure to function on a curved planet.

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Grid Corrections (a one minute) from Gerco de Ruijter on Vimeo.

The structure of the rural roads that captivated de Ruijter is rooted in the Jeffersonian grid, a planning structure promoted by President Thomas Jefferson with the intent of democratically dividing the nation’s land into six-square mile townships. “It did not take long for legislators to understand that a township could not be exactly six miles on each side if the north-south lines were to follow the lines of longitude, which converged, or narrowed, to the north,” landscape architect James Corner wrote in his book Taking Measures Across the American Landscape. “The grid was, therefore, corrected every four townships to maintain equal allocations of land.” This has translated into a grid correction built into the system every 24 miles.

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De Rutijer was first inspired to pursue this project when he began his residency at Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita, Kansas. While driving to a friend’s home, he noticed several points at which the straight roads came to a sudden stop at a T intersection, prompting drivers to zig-zag back onto the straight road. De Rutijer soon discovered that these strange correction points were not the result of odd land plots but were deliberately designed to fit the Earth’s shape.

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Inspired by what he had learned, de Rutijer began an aerial photography project to document the unusual but intentional rural road design in the United States. Prior to his work on Grid Corrections, de Rutijer has pursued similar themes of altered landscapes in his art, such as photographing circular pivot-irrigation systems made to fit square property lines or the fantastical, mathematical designs of Dutch tree farms. Grid Corrections will be screened at the Grasnapolsky music festival from February 2-4 in the Dutch town of Radio Kootwijk.

Via Colossal and Travel and Leisure

Images via Gerco de Ruijter and Depositphotos