San Francisco Emotion Map

Hi everyone,

Hope you all are doing well and are ready for spring break!!! As I was trying to find a map for the California field trip, I encountered this very interesting “Emotion Map” made by the artist Christian Nold. This rather unconventional map immediately caught my attention, so I’ve decided to have this “San Francisco Emotion Map” be the map of the week!

Dr. Christian Nold is an academic researcher and designer interested in “collective representation.” In the past decades, he had created several public mapping projects across the globe using the method that he called “Bio Mapping.” “Bio Mapping” is the cartography method aiming to visualize people’s reactions to the external world. This method encourages members of the community to re-explore their local area and involves people in public space planning by allowing them to share their experiences of that place. Thousands of people have participated in Nold mapping projects; “San Francisco Emotion Map,” among his other works like “East Paris Emotion Map” and “Greenwich Emotion Map,” is a part of his “Emotion Map” series. 

In the “San Francisco Emotion Map” project, a total of 98 participants explored a specific district of the city in five weeks and recorded their feelings about the neighborhoods using a Bio Mapping device that Nold invented. The final product presents a highly abstract district of San Francisco: Nold chose not to include any base map but to preserved only the structure of the main streets. The color gradient of the dots–ranking emotions from high to low physiological arousal–straightforwardly visualizes people’s feelings about the neighborhoods. In addition to having colored dots to represent different emotions, the map also included participants’ personal annotations on different places.  

If we were to have a map of such for our campus, what would that look like?

Have a wonderful Spring Break!

Yidan Xu ’24

San Francisco Emotion Map
Christian Nold, 2007