Rennes Emotion Map - Christian Nold, 2011

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The Rennes Emotion Map, 2010-2011 is a participatory art work by Christian Nold. The project involved over 400 local people from the area of Rennes in France and was commissioned by the Bouillants festival. Public events were organised in Grand Cordell and Vern sur Seiche as group workshops and drop-in sessions. People borrowed a small electronic device that they wore on their fingers. The device measured the wearer's Galvanic Skin Response, which was displayed via a flashing LED. The speed of the flashing LED represents the sweat on the fingers and indicates the wearer's emotional arousal. The role of the device is to act as a performative reflection of people's internal state and focus them on the thin threshold between the internal and external world. In addition, people were given a special paper map of the local area and were asked to go for a walk in the area and draw their experiences on the map with a red pen. The aim was for people to document their emotional relationship with the local area through drawings as well as textual comments about experiences in specific places. The texts were tagged as three different intensities of emotional experience. The paper maps contain a unique barcode code which allowed hundred individual maps to be geo-located and combined to create large collective mental maps of Grand Cordell and Vern sur Seiche.

The Rennes Emotion Map suggest that there is a shared experiential space that we all share, a kind of spatial poetry of lived life. The map represents a terse and fractured tapestry of what it means to be live in Rennes. Looking at the maps we see density of drawings and comments in certain area and spareness in others. We see mental maps that relate to physical space and at others that show abstract and private codes. We see multiple viewpoints of the same locations such as the cut down trees around the lakes in Vern sur Seiche or the swings, which trigger adult reflection on what it means to be a child. We see the shared space of funerals, kisses and pigeons. We see people discovering new places as well as a reflexive questioning what it means to represent emotion. Does the process of becoming aware of emotions change the sensation?

All the individual drawings and over 500 textual comments where pulled together by Christian Nold to design this Rennes Emotion Map. The drawings and texts are placed as close as possible to their geographical position but this is balanced with the need for legibility. The combination of English and French translation shows the complexity of this dual language design and the dedicated work of the Bouillants project team. This Emotion Map is an important public and private record of Rennes during October 2010, but I hope that it will encourage a broader and long term discussion about how to support and enrich the shared social and emotional space of Rennes.

San Fran | Greenwich | Stockport | Newham | Westminster | Silvertown | Brentford | Paris | Rio | Rennes |||Christian Nold |||