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The End of Austin: 2013 Article by Randolph Lewis

An Emotional Map of Austin

By Randolph Lewis of TEOA
December 19, 2013
TEOA sat down with Austin artist Jennifer Chenoweth to talk about creatively mapping the emotional highs and lows of the city in a project called the “Hedonic Map of Austin.”

Co-Lab InstallationHow do you describe the “Hedonic Map of Austin”?

The Hedonic Map of Austin is a topographical map of the highs and lows of collective experience. It is an ongoing collaborative project using information from the community that is visually represented in many ways.

What inspired this project?

In my life’s process of healing and wholeness, I have learned to accept all my experiences and emotions as valuable. So I was researching philosophical and psychological theories to inform my understanding. In response to my attachment to Austin and the places within it that I love, I started thinking about mapping emotional experiences of others and seeing if there are patterns.

What questions did you ask?

I started with a very academic spreadsheet interpreting the list of “Pleasures and Pains, Their Kinds” by Jeremy Bentham. But it was too much internal shorthand and would not have provoked answers from people taking the online anonymous survey. So I came up with a longer list of questions, shared it with friends who are writers and thinkers, and got their edits and suggestions. We narrowed it to 20 questions on the spectrum of intensity and types of emotions, as charted by Plutchick.

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