Heart of a City: BioMapping
Why skin is the new heart and how your neighbors can change the way your feel about your street.
By Maria Popova
On the trails of yesterday’s fascinating exploration of cities as living organisms, today we look at another piece of high-concept urban portraiture that harnesses the power of art, sociology and technology to a brilliant end.
Since 2004, Christian Nold has been orchestrating Bio Mapping — a crowdsourced community mapping project, which wires people up to Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) devices, detecting their emotional arousal, and sends them on their merry way around the neighborhood. These states are then mapped onto people’s geographic location, creating a visualization of communal emotion.
Participants — over 1,500 of them to date — also annotate the data with personal observations, memories and thoughts they associate with each location, painting a rich emotional portrait of the social space of a community.
Perhaps most fascinating about the project isn’t the mere documentation of collective emotion, but how that awareness would change our perception of our community and environment.
Those who have been with Brain Pickings for some time may find Bio Mapping reminiscent of Swedish artist Erik Krikortz’s Emotional Cities project. But, as researchers, we love the idea of measuring emotional states via biofeedback rather than self-reporting.
After all, there’s often a gaping disconnect between how we publicly broadcast emotion and how we privately experience it.
Published May 26, 2009