ODTmaps Expert Denis Wood Reveals the Hidden Messages of Maps

ODTmaps.com author and world-renowned alternative cartographer, Dr. Denis Wood, will explore the way maps shape our view of the world in his lecture, The Origins of Map Art, at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, OH on Monday, June 9 at 6:30 pm. Dr. Wood traces the trajectory of map art since the early 20th century. Wood poses a key question: “If we equate maps with truth, what power does the mapmaker possess?”

Cincinnati, OH, June 08, 2008 --(PR.com)-- Dr. Denis Wood of Raleigh, NC has called our time the “age of maps” on the public radio show This American Life. On CNN, Wood said, “The things that are of immense concern to us as human beings are social realities, and (most) maps don't show those.” In his writing and in his art, Wood explores the constructed reality maps offer. “Maps give us reality that exceeds our vision, our reach, the span of our days, a reality we achieve no other way,” he writes in his book, The Power of Maps. “We are always mapping the invisible or the unattainable or the erasable, the future or the past.” Wood brings his unique perspective and unparalleled knowledge of cartographic history and the significance of maps to Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center in a lecture Monday, June 9 at 6:30 pm.

Maps have a remarkable effect on our view of the world. At the root of their power is our frequently unquestioning acceptance of cartographic messages. Though we equate maps with truth, it is crucial to be conscious of the omissions and limitations of the map making process in order to create a readable map. Thus in turn, maps and their makers have the ability to manipulate their audience with the information chosen to include. Wood is co-author of ODT’s Seeing Through Maps book, called "compulsively readable” by Prof. John H. Andrews, Dept. of Geography, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States has called Seeing Through Maps “An ingenious way of looking at the world with creative imagination.”

Wood's lecture is part of an exhibition addressing the subjective nature of mapping, how we locate ourselves in consideration of changing boundaries and territories, and how we give visual form to boundaries, territories and land masses. Artists in this exhibition confront the politics of naming of places, cartographic attacks on ethnic sensitivity, maps as evidence in boundary disputes, extension of terrestrial boundaries into nautical masses, and maps as scientific and political voice. The war in Iraq and the Middle east, the changing scape of New Orleans, the shifting boundaries in Africa, expanding cities, suburbs, dwindling country and rezoning in our local communities - all of these issues are materials for artists in the exhibition.

Wood is also a contributor and featured guest on ODT’s recent DVD release on maps, entitled Arno Peters:Radical Map, Remarkable Man. The movie trailer is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osQN7aSQV9w. The DVD is provided at no charge to schools or other non-profits who hold a free public screening by posting the showing at http://arnopeters.bravenewtheaters.com/. The DVD is available for purchase at: http://odtmaps.com/videos-dvds.

Wood’s lecture is part of an exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center entitled: Uncoordinated: Mapping Cartography In Contemporary Art. In it a variety of artists explore the power and meaning of maps as a way for human beings to orientate themselves culturally, politically and conceptually. This is a “thoughtful show about how mapping as an activity and as a tool is used by artists from around the world to talk about a myriad of global issues,” says Raphaela Platow of the Contemporary Arts Center. “This show is highly political but in a personal way and features a wide range of intriguing works in all media.”

“Every map is a cultural construction that geographers, scientists and artists create to convey meaning,” says the show’s curator. “In this context, maps provide a globally relevant and universally understood medium for communication, expression and recording of history, culture and topography.”

To Contact Denis Wood: Contact ODTmaps.com at 800-736-1293 or odtstore@odt.org

The Exhibition, Uncoordinated: mapping cartography in contemporary art, runs from May 17 – August 17, 2008 and is curated by Clare Norwood. Artists include: Brian Alfred, Noriko Ambe, Radcliffe Bailey, Jimmy Baker, Jonathan Callan, Matt Coors, Russell Crotty, Leila Daw, Qin Ga, Torben Giehler, Zach Herrmann, Marco Maggi, Stefana McClure, Tim McMichael, Aleksandra Mir, Mollie Oblinger and elin o’Hara slavick.

For a free ticket to Wood’s lecture please RSVP with Andrea Blake 513-345-8434 or ablake@cacmail.org.

The Contemporary Arts Center was founded in November 1939 as the Modern Art Society by three visionary women in Cincinnati. On Mondays the museum is free from 5 pm-9 pm; For other hours and fees see: www.contemporaryartscenter.org

Bob Abramms
Fax: 413-549-3503