New CC Book: “Emotional Cartography – Technologies of the Self” by Nold

This publication is about data visualisation and not concerned with sound and music, but it is easy to make links to the sonification of biomedical data community from Sonic Interaction Design (SID). Also, some of the issues raised in this book are relevant for mobile music and sound projects, such as Sonic City, and others in the proceedings of the Mobile Music Workshops. I look forward to reading it in more detail soon.

Emotional Cartography – Technologies of the Self

Edited by Christian Nold, 2009

Emotional Cartography is a collection of essays from artists, designers, psychogeographers, cultural researchers, futurologists and neuroscientists, brought together by Christian Nold, to explore the political, social and cultural implications of visulising intimate biometric data and emotional experiences using technology.

Essays by Raqs Media Collective, Marcel van de Drift, Dr Stephen Boyd Davis, Rob van
Kranenburg, Sophie Hope and Dr Tom Stafford

This is the first section of the introduction:

”This book is a collection of essays from artists, psychogeographers, designers, cultural researchers, futurologists and neuroscientists, brought together to explore the political, social and cultural implications of visualising people’s intimate biometric data and emotions using technology. The book is the outcome of a research process which aimed to reach a deeper understanding of a project called ‘Bio Mapping’, which since 2004, has involved thousands of participants in over 16 different countries. Bio Mapping emerged as a critical reaction towards the currently dominant concept of pervasive technology, which aims for computer ‘intelligence’ to be integrated everywhere, including our everyday lives and even bodies. The Bio Mapping project investigates the implications of creating technologies that can record, visualise and share with each other our intimate body-states.

To practically explore this subject, I invented and built the Bio Mapping device, which is a portable and wearable tool recording data from two technologies: a simple biometric sensor measuring Galvanic Skin Response and a Global Positioning System (GPS). The bio-sensor, which is based on a lie-detector, measures changes in the sweat level of the wearers’ fingers. The assumption is that these changes are an indication of ‘emotional’ intensity. The GPS part of the device also allows us to record the geographical location of the wearer anywhere in the world and pinpoint where that person is when these ‘emotional’ changes occur. This data can  then be visualised in geographical mapping software such as Google Earth.  The result is that the wearer’s journey becomes viewable as a visual track  on a map, whose height indicates the level of physiological arousal  at that particular  moment. The Bio Mapping tool is therefore a unique  device linking together the personal and intimate with the outer space of  satellites orbiting around the Earth. The device appears to offer the colossal  possibility of being able to record a person’s emotional state anywhere in  the world, in the form of an ‘Emotional Map’.

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