Design & Emotion Blog

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Emotional Cities

In 2007, Erik Krikortz (an artist, based in Stockholm) teamed up with FarFar to launch the experiment Emotional Cities. They explain on their website:

How are you today?

Emotional Cities poses a very everyday question. But what would happen if we took more time to reflect over how we ourselves, and others around us, are feeling? Can a few minutes of daily reflection make us more aware? Emotional Cities is an art project that studies and visualizes the emotions of individuals and groups.

On the website, anyone can participate by grading their “form for the day” on a scale with seven levels, emotional states denoted by a colour code from purple to red. The median values for cities, countries, and the world, as well as groups of your own creation, are calculated on an ongoing basis. All the results are displayed graphically on the website. It’s not easy to measure feelings, but the results can be surprising.

For those who wish, there is also the possibility to write a diary. The entries are not visible to any other user. So after the “How” question has been answered, it is possible add a “Why”. What actually affects us the most; inside or outside events, routine and minor, repeated occurrences, or dramatic, once-in-a-lifetime experiences?

In some cities the current emotional state of the city will be shown as a light installation in the public space. Scientific studies will be carried out as a continuation of the art project. Emotional Cities is an experiment – not only in the sense of an artistic-psychological study, but also as a hybrid between different media and modes of expression.

Above all, Emotional Cities depends on your participation. How the work of art is used is the deciding factor for its content and development. I hope the project will awaken your care for yourself and others, and contribute to the reflection over life.

Emotional Cities - input

Above: the input / Below: the output

Emotional Cities- output

Cram Hotel (Barcelona)

This project  reminds me of the Cram hotel in Barcelona, where guests can express their feelings and moods in order to influence the color that the spotlights outside reflect on the facade of the hotel.

Likings / Dislikings

There are a couple of things about this project that I like very much. First of all, I really like the fact that it gives the city direct feedback on the mean of emotions that are felt in that particular moment. I also like the idea that it can serve as a way to reflect, this will be mostly the case with important events that really affect the majority in the city. I can imagine that it is then that you feel the connection with others the most and feel like reflecting on that. The idea of keeping a personal diary is also very nice, as it will be giving you insight in your own personal emotional evolution so to say.

What I think is an important drawback of the project in terms of the accuracy of the registered emotions, are the emoticons that are used to express and interpret the emotions that are experienced. To me, they feel a bit limited. How can shame be registered for example, or surprise? It would make the application so much more interesting if those subtle but fundamental emotions would be registered more easily as well. With the tool that SusaGroup is developing to measure the emotional experience of services and environments, the set of 8 distinct emotions solves such problems. What that tool also does, is specify directly which stimulus caused the person to experience the emotion. I think a nice opportunity would be to integrate these type of functionalities with the current functionalities of Emotional Cities, such as the feedback in the public space. SusaGroup is currently working on a secret internal project (hush hush!) that is based on the findings and insights we got from the conducted experiments for the service/environments tool.

It is great that other very interesting initiatives such as Emotional Cities exist and are based on the same convictions as we believe in.

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