Unit 4 - Experience & Environment

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Our brief asked us to create a system for tracking the experience of your day, and to use the system for a week. Initially I was nervous because I had no idea how to approach the task ahead, but I was extremely interested in researching the idea of mapping and charting data in different ways. Peter Hall's lecture was inspiring and really instigated some curiosity for me to pursue. Mapping has become such a recognisable technique for direction, but its interesting to see it take on a more emotional approach to data.

Emily Wood set us a workshop on the day of the briefing to try and map our journey into the university building, and then by building on top of that map with a details and information about the personal responses you had on the journey. This method really helped me get into the mindset of the brief and it unlocked lots of ideas to get started. 

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Thanks to the many resources Peter had given to us in his initial lecture, I was inspired to research more and look at ways you can plot and map your experiences. The book, "Information Is Beautiful" was a huge source of inspiration to me. There were so many examples of how mapping can have different results depending on your source of data. 

I made a visual map of my walk into university but instead of making it informative and for other people to follow, I recreated it from a more conceptual perspective, and then did the same with my day in a number of different ways. The result was a collection of interesting takes on a day's experiences, but none that had an obvious collection of data to support the design. 

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I gave myself a full day to monitor multiple different inputs of data to come up with a system that I liked enough to pursue for a week. I tried various "experiences" like how many times you touch your face to your enjoyment of a cup of tea. The touching your face idea was tricky to monitor because its something you only do naturally when you're not aware of it, and so monitoring it was extremely tough! I ended up using my flatmate as a guinea-pig and I collected data from two hours from the day whilst we were watching television. I couldn't visualise any further way of developing this as a system nor as a map outcome so I moved on. Monitoring my cups of tea also had a similar outcome, although I enjoyed the process a lot more. I made a graph to look like a mug of tea and with different colours I plotted points throughout drinking of how much I was enjoying it. But again, I didn't want to see this through further. 

The other idea I'd had was tracking my levels of getting dressed and undressed throughout the day. It's something that everyone does so the system can be applied to anyone, and there's lots of data to collect as I broke down all the layers of clothes so that there were lots of points to plot. 

From my research I had discovered many ways of visualising time, it could be linear or circular or plotted on random points. I decided on a circular graph to resemble a clock face. Each segment was an hour of my day and each circle outwards was a different layer of clothing. I liked this method and I created a better graph to use for the week, and I used acetate to map each day. 

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I had mentioned to a friend of mine what project I was currently working on and in describing it to him he suggested that I should do some research into graphic scores. I was so grateful to him for the tip because I'd not even heard of the idea and they are so relevant to this project. Visually mapping a sound is a great way to give feeling to it, and I loved the way they were 'composed'. I did lots of research into composers such as Kandinsky, Haubenstock - Ramati, Takemitsu, Cardew and Cage. the results from my research were so inspiring I knew I had to pursue this idea further to develop a system to create my own graphic score with the data I had collected. 

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I did some testing using different keys to recreate my data in a graphic score fashion. each day's data used a different key so I would have a range of outcomes. this helped me to develop a final one that I was happy with. I also did some experimentation with layering and colour and I really liked the outcomes visually, but it was important for me that non of the data was lost in the graphics and that it was still legible so I opted to keep it plain. 

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This was the final outcome of plotting my week's getting dressed and undressed processes. I layered all 5 days over one another and each one has a different colour, then I used the bold black horizontal line to use and a timeline. There is a point marked as midday about 1/3 of the way along. All the data is completely legible and you can actually use the score to read and find information about what soft of clothes I was wearing throughout each day. I'm very pleased with the outcome as I have not done anything like this before. 

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Final Thoughts on this project

The idea of “mapping” was really intriguing to me. Maps are something that we all know how to use, but most often with a directional element. It was exciting to explore this medium by looking at it through a more emotional level.

So, how can you track the experiences of your day, like your emotions, without affecting the data by being constantly aware of it? For me this was a huge decider in helping me choose the “experience” I wanted to monitor throughout my week. There are things that we do everyday that we don’t have to pay particular emotional attention to like getting dressed and undressed throughout each day, something that obviously I do, but wasn’t fully aware of the amount of putting on/ taking off. Through doing research from other “mapping” examples, I very much liked the play on time in a certain few, like the “Seven Day Circle Of Ground” and the “Tristram Shandy” timeline map. I knew I wanted to present my data with a sense of moving throughout time, much like the process of getting dressed and undressed throughout the day. The book “Information Is Beautiful” by David McCandless was a great source of research and inspiration for ways to demonstrate data and ideas for “mapping” places, time, events, emotions etc. After some trial and error, I chose a circular basis for my map, resembling the clock face of your day, but less identifiable. I developed a key for myself to mark onto my map my layers of clothing, the outer circle being fully clothed and wrapped up warm1 and the inner circle being either nude or in underwear. I collected a week’s worth of data, and was pleased with the process, but I felt it could be pushed onwards. Throughout more research I stumbled upon composer Roman Haubenstock, and others, and their graphic scores. I loved that these stunning depictions of music were not only beautifully conceptual but also meant to be legible. These sound mappings were what I wanted to base my idea of my map on. Tests and research helped me develop a key I was happy with, and then using my previously collected data, I plotted my experience of my whole week, which is (although intense) still very legible and accurate.

 

 1 Looking back at my project, I feel that the value of my data would be very seasonal. You get a great outcome when you’re mapping layers and layers of clothing, jumpers, coats, hats scarves and gloves etc, but I feel that if I were to do this project again in summer, my graphic map would be a lot less impressive with only shorts and a t-shirt as my data.

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