Monday, September 3, 2007

Greenwich Emotion Map

Christian Nold created the Greenwich Emotion Map - a direct measurement of the participant's emotional response to the the city around them. Greenwich Emotion Map uses GPS technology and a Biomapping Device - utilizing Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) - to read the changes in the participants emotional states.

From the website:
The project is... a series of participatory workshops that invite people to [use] a Bio Mapping device and go for a walk. The device measures the wearer's Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), which is an indicator of emotional arousal.... The resulting maps encourage personal reflection on the complex relationship between us, our environment and our fellow citizens. By sharing this information we can construct maps that visualize where we as a community feel stressed and excited.[1]
This artwork has obvious allusions to the study of psychogeography - the study of the emotional and psychological effects of a cityscape. A "derive" - a seemingly random walk through an urban space, allows a participant in a psychogeographic artwork to experience new areas and characteristics of a city they may feel they already.

Jean Baudrillard stipulates that in simulating an object, the object itself is destroyed. "The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth - it is the truth which conceals that there is none."[2] In this way, the simulacrum replaces the original, because in it's representation of the original, it supplants it and becomes more important.

In Inventing a Beast with No Body, Charles Bergman draws ties between surveillance, and Jean Baudrillard's concept of the Simulacra, and the destruction of the simulated object. He stipulates that the subject of observation becomes the output of the technological device monitoring it. Interestingly, he is talking about surveilling endagered species using radio telemetry devices. "The animal with the radio transmitter disappears as a viable, embodied creature. It emerges... as a frequency on a receiver... [as] coded beeps."[3] Maps are made of the daily journeys, migration patterns, and territorial wanderings. The purpose is to track the signal, and the creature almost becomes insignificant. Furthermore, this data is often used to contain and control these populations. The grey wolf, once extinct in the United States, has been reintroduced, but now poses a threat to local cattle and sheep ranchers. Containment of the animals is necessary to protect the livestock, and often means relocated the already relocated animals. [4]

In much the same way, our technological communication devices and components, notably cell phones, become our simulacrums, and in essence replace our selves. We can use our phones, cars, laptops, and a number of other devices to call up a map of a particular area. In doing so, we have invalidated the time-honored skill of asking for directions, wandering, and getting lost.

1 http://www.emotionmap.net/
2 Baudrillard, Jean. Simulations. Trans Paul Foss, Paul Patton, Phillip Beitchman. New York: Semiotext, 1983.
3 Bergman, Charles. Inventing a Beast with No Body. p257
4 image: http://www.headwatersnews.org/p.kelley083105.html

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