Christian Nold – Sensory Journeys

Christian Nold was one of the designers I briefly looked into for my research on Emotive Mapping. Looking at a further scope of his work I have found that he is one of the leading experts in the emotional cartography world, most notable for his project on bio mapping.

As with the emotive Stockton map, Nolds work on Bristol also illustrates the emotional responses the participants had on the surrounding area, although this is more tailored regarding their reactions and the correlation between the mode of transport they are using. This map is in response to the question – Do people have different sensory experiences and emotional relationships with their local area depending on their mode of travel?

The participants were children and were asked to carry GPS units around the town and press a button at five different points to describe their most important experiences which were then marked on the specially crafted greyscale printed map of the area. They were encouraged to make sketches and notes on top of these maps including stating which route they travelled on, these were then scanned and uploaded onto the website.

I find the initial look of the emotive map quite a confusing piece of work to look at, it isn’t something the user will initially understand without first reading the background concept however when you zoom in to a specific location, Nold recommends a school, you begin to see what the children think of the area through a series of smiley faces. On clicking these faces you get a sentence or two directly from the kids about the area that are in their most raw state. Some don’t make sense, some are very brief and hard to understand and others are just plain weird.

  1. –       I got killed hear not
  2. –       Save me people are torching me at school
  3. –       Don’t come here ever
  4. –       Prison
  5. –       Prison
  6. –       My Old School I Move up to be more grown up!

These are just a few of the notes regarding the location around the prison and Elmlea School. I think it’s interesting to see these interactions and how they change based on the forms of transport used. Flicking through the tabs it’s clear that very few children cycle to school with scooters being a fraction more common. As expected driving in and walking were almost tied with those variations of the map being exceedingly confusing with the drawings and sketches overlain on top of them.

‘Looking at the maps, there is clear difference between the modes of transport. The Walking Maps for both schools show a much larger number of interactions with people, plants and animals as well as sensory events such as weather, noises and smells. In comparison the Driving Maps show mainly buildings and sights. The experience of being driven to school appears to be like a teleport with a beginning and an end and little in between.’

These findings show that the act of walking, whilst being the healthiest and more environmentally friendly choice is also the most enriching as the children found the journeys much more interactive and interesting as opposed to those on the driving maps. These findings were then presented to the schools to discuss the sensory, emotional and social impact on the travelling choices made by the children and their parents on their daily commute.


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