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'Magic lantern show' combines words, maps, photos

March 16, 2011

Peter Turchi, Mark Klett and Reif Larsen each see the world in a different way: one through words, one through photos, and one through maps and charts.

Put them together and you have a fascinating evening of discussion and new ideas.

The three will join forces to present "Mapping the Territory: Fiction, Photography, and Changing Perspectives – A Multimedia Event,” or what Turchi calls “a 21st century magic lantern show” at 7:45 p.m., March 30, in the Memorial Union Pima Auditorium (room 230) on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.

The free event is sponsored by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Science's year-long Project Humanities, focusing on place.

In addition, Larsen, author of the new novel “The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet,” will conduct a Q&A at the Piper Writers House at 3:30 p.m., also on March 30.

For the evening presentation, Larsen, Klett, and Turchi will each present brief multimedia presentations related to their own work and the role of fiction and photography in helping us see the world around us in new ways.

Larsen, a cartographer and graphic artist as well as a fiction writer who received his MFA in fiction from Columbia University, uses drawings, maps and charts in his novel about T.S. Spivet, a 12-year-old mapmaker from Montana who wins a prestigious prize from the Smithsonian Institution and sets off by himself to claim it.

Klett, together with collaborators including Byron Wolfe, has done landmark work in the field of re-photography, including the ongoing project “Charting the Canyon.”

Turchi is the author of numerous books, including “Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer,” a consideration of writing and mapmaking that has been adopted by writers, artists and designers around the world.

Turchi, who is director of the Piper Center for Creative Writing, said of the evening, "Scientific cartography gives us valuable ways to view the world, but privileging one way of seeing can be terribly limiting, even dangerous. By combining maps with photography and writing, the three of us are, in our own ways, working to see the world differently.

“Our goal is to leave everyone with new images and new ideas in mind."

For more information about the two events, contact the Piper Center, (480) 965-6018, or

Project Humanities is a yearlong, universitywide initiative designed to explore the ways we connect with each other and make meaning of our shared experiences and to show the interactions among humanities and other areas of scholarship and human endeavor. The theme is "Humanities at the Crossroads: Perspectives on Place.” For more information about the project and events, go to