Review of Radio show “Mapping Senses” from This American Life http://www.thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=110

This radio show interviews different people who use different senses in mapping the world around them. I advise everyone to give this show a listen it’s very interesting and it will expand your ideas on mapping and how individual interpret the world differently.

Prologue:begins in New York with professional sidewalk mappers paid to map all of the aliments of the sidewalk so that people can sue if they fall. I found this interesting because the idea of of mapping only one thing at a time can constitute a map. All of the other interesting information is left out of the map, like surrounding restaurants and visual descriptions of anything besides sidewalks.  Sight: Dennis Woods http://www.flickr.com/photos/thisamericanlife/sets/72157602618985796/ He maps things that normally aren’t mapped or thought of as necessary for mapping. Like pumpkins in his neighborhood. He takes pictures of the faces of pumpkins and places the faces on a map, they appear to be floating in space, and it seems to fulfill no real purpose. His stated purpose is to explore the “poetics of cartography”. This helped me see that it is possible to map anything and everything that takes up physical space. Sound: Toby Lester noticed in his industrialized environments sounds that could be described as droning or humming produced from the electronics of everyday like such as a heater or computer. He noticed certain pitches over lapping and became curious, he realized that chords and intervals of musically notes were being played at him all day long. He hypothesized about the low humming associated with the Industrial revolution being linked to or the cause of our generations boredom and general anxiety. I am very intrigued by this hypothesis and I wish to explore it more!!! Never thought about this before. Smell: Nancy Updike spoke of the electronic nose and explained how it worked compared to our noses and the possible uses for medicinal reasons as well as another marketable consumer object. The only smells this electronic nose can detect at this point are: solvent vapors, decay in technology, and two perfumes to impress consumers. Touch: Deb Monroe talks about her hypochondriac tendencies and mapping her body using the sense of touch. She is convinced most of the time she has some kind of tumor or cancer growing in a specific area of her body be it breasts, brain or stomach. She obsessively compulsively pokes and prods her body up to 30-40 times a day to check for lumps and abnormalities. I think the most interesting thing she mentioned was when she attempts to map her body while filled with fear her results are often inaccurate. I think that this kind of body mapping is comparable to the way people with Ed’s map their bodies inaccurately…very interesting. Taste: Johnathon Gold started mapping taste in Los Angeles in the 80’s specifically on Pico Boulevard, he decided to eat at every restaurant on the street and invented rules he would follow in this endeavor. The main message here was cultural fusion evident in food and the idea that we as humans might be better able to understand cultural differences and apprieciate blending more through the sense of taste. The whole radio show was tremendously interesting and helpful. I’m noticing now that I mapped my walks in differently ways then the people interviewed on the show, I wonder if I would have done something else for my sense walks had I listened to this before walking…?