Denis Wood: Everything Sings
Maps for a Narrative Atlas
Introduction by Ira Glass.
With artful wit and rigor, the cartographer Denis Wood has written numerous books (including the influential bestseller The Power of Maps) that reorient his readers not only to our neighborhoods, homes and bodies, but also to our own very human instinct to understand where we live by mapmaking. At the heart of Wood's investigations is a near-legendary endeavor: the Boylan Heights maps, begun in 1982, and now published in Everything Sings. Surveying his century-old, half-square mile neighborhood Boylan Heights in Raleigh, North Carolina, Wood began by paring away the inessential "map crap" (scale, orientation, street grids) and, in searching for the revelatory in the unmapped and the unmappable, he ended up plotting such phenomena as radio waves permeating the air, the light cast by street lights and Halloween pumpkins on porches. As radio host Ira Glass writes in his introduction to this volume, "we see which homes have wind chimes and which ones call the cops. We see the route of the letter carrier and the life cycle of the daily paper. Wood is writing a novel where we never meet the main characters, but their stuff is everywhere." Together, Wood's maps accumulate into a multi-layered story about one neighborhood that tells the larger story of what constitutes the places we call home.
Denis Wood (born 1945) is a geographer, an independent scholar and the author of several books on maps, including the popular and highly influential The Power of Maps (which originated as an exhibition Wood curated for the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design). His most recent publications include The Natures of Maps (co-authored with John Fels) and Rethinking the Power of Maps (with Fels and John Krygier). Selected maps from Everything Sings have been exhibited internationally such as at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, as well as included in a variety of publications, including Katherine Harmon's You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination.