Friday, 3 July 2009

Book - Emotional Cartography

Image taken from Emotional Cartography by Christian Nold

Christian Nold’s book Emotional Cartography has featured on this blog earlier, shortly after it ha been published online. This time `I would like to look back at the book and talk a bit more about the content beside Christians projects.
The book is a collection of essays that tie in with Christian Nold’s Biomapping Project. The six elements basically form the main body of the book and are hold together with some o the Biomapping project visualizations.
The range of contributions ranges from fictional stories (Marcel van der Drift) to theoretical and practical analysis of participative art (Sophy Hope). This really provides a good context for the project even if you haven’t been familiar with Christians work beforehand. In some contributions the text is reprinted, others are specifically written for this publication, but all try hard to relate to the idea of Emotional Cartography.
The striking image that these text point out about the concept paint, is how unique, new and innovative this approach is.
To begin the book the introduction titled “Emotional Cartography - Technology of the Self”, Christian Nold sets out the context, introduces his work and the essays. He is not short in examples and project anecdotes so it is a text that makes you want to know more.
The first essay “Machines Made to Measure: on the Technology of Identity and the Manufacture of Difference” has a strong focus on the body it possibilities and contradictions with the possibility to injure or imprisoning. The identity is explored along examples of body parts of uniqueness, such as fingerprints.
“A Future Love Story” by Marcel van der Drift a picture of futuristic usage of location based information and the extend to which the technology could be directly connected to the human body. It is a rather literal and direct story that draws strongly on present development.
Steven Boyd Davis writes about the interpretation and the subjective stand points in his text “Mapping the unseen: Making Sense of the Subjective Image”. The concept of engaging with these subjective views of location information is very interesting and funny at times. Surprisingly he manages largely to ship around the obvious example of mental maps.
Sophy Hope then brings up the context of the engaging public art in the UK. “Socially Engaged Art: The Conscience of Urban Development” draws out historic and recent examples of this mainly urban phenomenon of participative art projects and how it has come to take on new roles in local community planning.
The book concludes with Tom Stafford exploring the possibilities of the human brain in a following up text entitled “Hacking our Tool for Thought” to his book “Mind Hacks” written for O’Reilly together with Matt Webb. Tom explores the possibility and limitations of the human brain and how it potentially could be hacked. He is also interestingly very much focusing on the aspect of such possibilities for the group and not the individuals. He largely draws directly on the output of some of the Emotional Cartography projects, which provides a good integration and conclusion for the book.
Overall an interesting collection and a good read because it is diverse. Apart from the introduction there is very little about the technological aspects of the Emotional Cartography project. This is refreshing and allows for other focuses to be worked out more prominently. Especially the topic of the body enjoys a great focus although I suspect this was not planned to such an extend.
The book is freely available on the internet as a full quality colour version at emotionalcartography or as a 2mb version here. It is all published under a Creative Commons.