Weekend Read: Denis Wood

Inverse has an interview with iconoclastic cartographer Denis Wood, in which he is as thought-provoking as ever (e.g., “Maps are arguments about the way we think the world should be or could be. They are arguments made in graphic form.”). [via]

Not mentioned in the interview—but mentioned in this 2014 Wired piece and in Unmappable, a short documentary about Wood that is currently making the rounds of the film festival circuit—is Wood’s 1996 conviction for sex with a minor and subsequent prison term, a fact that is public but not necessarily talked about openly (despite blogging frequently about his work, I only learned about it through the Wired piece) and makes discussing Wood and his work rather complicated: mention the fact and it overshadows, fail to mention it and it’s conspicuous by its absence. Either way, ignoring Wood is difficult.

Weekend Read: ‘You Are Here’

Oftentimes in Japan, I had no idea where I was going. The moments when I did felt like a perfect alignment of puzzle pieces that made the in-betweens worth it. I imagined myself like those ancient cartographers, trying to make sense of the jumble of crepes and onigiri, shrines and skyscrapers, neon and origami. I made my own maps, rewriting them over the ones I had hastily constructed on the flight over. I began to understand how mapping a place, even sketchily, can feel like owning a piece of it.

Emma Talkoff writes in the Harvard Crimson’s Fifteen Minutes magazine about her encounters with maps new and old during her time in Japan. [via]

Bailey Henderson’s Sea Monster Sculptures

Sea monsters are a familiar feature of early modern European maps. Toronto-based sculptor Bailey Henderson has rendered them in real life, casting them in bronze and then painting them. It’s incredible work that really does evoke the original. More details at Hi-Fructose magazine. [via]

For more sea monsters on maps, see my review of Chet Van Duzer’s Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps. You should also be aware that #MapMonsterMonday is a thing on Twitter.

Judgmental Maps

judgmental-albuquerqueJudgmental Maps is a blog that posts snarky, profane city maps—basically, city maps overlain with snarky labels of various neighbourhoods—submitted by readers. (Think of the project as Yanko Tsvetkov but with less talent.) A map of Albuquerque posted there last March got noticed by a local radio station, which naturally stirred up some local controversy. This seems to happen a lot: last month it was Orlando. I’m sure this means something, though it’s escaping me at the moment. [via]

The State of the Middle East Atlas

state-middleeastI feel a little embarrassed by my constant linking to Geographical magazine’s book reviews, but they point to books, particularly British books, that I otherwise hadn’t heard of—such as Dan Smith’s State of the Middle East Atlas (New Internationalist, November 2015), the third edition of which was just published. From Laura Cole’s review: “[T]he atlas has been revised with new analyses of the region since the Arab Spring began in 2011 as well as the latest on the Israel-Palestine conflict, the refugee crisis and foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria. Smith, cartographer and director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, has kept up with the compelling changes and complicated dynamics of Middle Eastern politics.” Buy at Amazon U.K.

Mapping Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

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In a blog post, Bradley Beaulieu describes how he worked with artist Maxime Plasse on the map for his fantasy novel Twelve Kings in Sharakhai (published in the U.K. as Twelve Kings). “There’s been a lot of back and forth to get things from my very rough starting point to the final version, so I thought I’d share some of it to give you a sense for how the process typically works.” I am, as you know, a sucker for process; Beaulieu takes us from his own map, which he generated with Fractal Terrains and Campaign Cartographer, to Plasse’s final, full-colour map (above). [via]

Twelve Kings in SharakhaiAmazon (Canada, U.K.) | iBooks (U.K. edition)

Georeferenced Historic Maps

The National Library of Scotland has an online map viewer that overlays georeferenced old maps atop a modern web map interface (Bing, I believe). Among my crowd, it’s the various 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps of London that generate the most excitement, though there are plenty of other locales (mostly but not exclusively in the U.K.) and time periods.