The many ways that maps and visual data have been used for centuries to manipulate information and truth come under scrutiny in BENDING LINES: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception, a new initiative of the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center at the Boston Public Library that opens with an immersive, "digital first" exhibition on May 27.
Viewers are invited to explore the online show and listen to Angles on Bending Lines: Curator Conversations, a series of interactive events hosted by Leventhal Center’s Curator of Maps and Director of Geographic Scholarship Garrett Dash Nelson, and featuring guests who give context to the exhibition's themes and content.
The series will launch on Wednesday, May 27 at 1pm with “Same Data, Different Stories." This talk features curator Garrett Dash Nelson and guest Maggie Owens, Principal Research Analyst and Planner for the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, and the creator of one of the “Data Stories” maps commissioned for the exhibition.
“Data Stories” is a collaborative exhibition component that was commissioned by the Leventhal Center to bring the show’s theme into a contemporary context. Geographic datasets about Massachusetts were offered to high-profile cartographers and data designers around the country, each of whom agreed to develop two competing but equally persuasive cartographic narratives. Using design tools and Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, the cartographers created maps and data visualizations; the resulting work underscores how mapmakers’ perspectives influence the products they make.
Maggie Owens is a Planner and Analyst with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. Her passion lies in exploring the cult of data and its power to construct and disseminate narratives about the 'way things are.' In particular, she is interested in how data is being used to liberate or restrict our ability to imagine a better world.
Serving at the Parks Department, Maggie works to place issues of equity and storytelling front and center through collaboration, a critical and judicious use of data, and accessible visualizations. Cartography is a useful and oft-needed tool in this process. And so, Maggie hopes to find new ways of producing community-based cartographic illustrations that are easily shared by all.
Garrett Dash Nelson is the Curator of Maps & Director of Geographic Scholarship at the Leventhal Map & Education Center.
Angles on Bending Lines: Curator Conversations will continue weekly:
Curator Garrett Dash Nelson talks with Alasdair Rae, Professorial Fellow in Urban Studies and Planning at The University of Sheffield (UK), who created a chart of gerrymandered congressional districts featured in the exhibition. “Twisted Data: Gerrymandering, GIS, and Visual Information" will air live on Wednesday, June 3 at 1pm. The conversation will be recorded and available to view online following the event.
Curator Garrett Dash Nelson welcomes guest Judith Tyner, Professor Emerita of Geography at California State University, Long Beach. Tyner coined the term that gives this segment its title; she will discuss how maps are used to influence opinions and beliefs.“Persuasive Cartography” will air live on Wednesday, June 10, 1pm. The conversation will be recorded and available to view online following the event.
Curator Garrett Dash Nelson leads a lively discussion with map collector and researcher PJ Mode, whose love for old and unusual maps of the world led to a fascination with unconventional maps whose purpose is not fact-based, but more persuasive. “What You See Is What You get? - Or Is It?” will air live on Wednesday, June 17 at 1pm. The conversation will be recorded and available to view online following the event.