Mapping emotion

July 29, 2008

London based artist Christian Nold maps emotion. Here’s his description from his website

Bio Mapping is a community mapping project in which over the last four years with more than 1500 people have taken part in. In the context of regular, local workshops and consulltations, participants are wired up with an innovative device which records the wearer’s Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), which is a simple indicator of the emotional arousal in conjunction with their geographical location. People re-eplore their local area by walking the neighbourhood with the device and on their return a map is created which visualises points of high and low arousal. By interpreting and annotating this data, communal emotion maps are constructed that are packed full of personal observations which show the areas that people feel strongly about and truly visualise the social space of a community.
How will our perceptions of our community and environment change when we become aware of our own and each others intimate body states?

I got very excited reading Christian’s website about the possible applications of this process in organisations – imagine tracking the emotional temperature of a business over the course of a day, a week or a year and then using this very visual data to have conversations about the systemic conditions in which particular kinds of emotions are generated? This would challenge the old chestnut that emotion is ‘personal’ rather than systemic…interesting, interesting thoughts…
Hat Tip Richard Florida

3 People reacted on this

  1. Hi Annette, interesting post. I had seen this before and wondered whether there were any applications -I like your idea of using it in business. I have been studying emotions (systematically!)for some time and have mapped each one based on neuroscience and evolutionary biology. There are roughly 550 human emotions so the types of graphs of general arousal that Christian Nold has used are great but limited. I’ve used my ideas to create emotional diaries, look at brand positionings and comms research etc. but I hadn’t thought of time series data. Thanks!

  2. Hi David
    Thanks for your comment and the link to your interesting website. Do you distinguish between feelings and emotions? Stephen Fineman’s work in this area is interesting – feelings being the internal private and emotion being the external performed?

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