Workshop: Lungs and Maps

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Mapping atmosphere with MA Sustainable Design students, Brighton University.

What did we do?

In this ideation workshop, MA Sustainable Design students had a go at creating their own atmosphere maps.

The session began with a lecture on mapping and atmosphere. I introduced a critical approach to the research topics

Regarding atmosphere, the lecture covered theories of meteorology, Ingold’s weather-world, social inequality, engineered atmosphere, Sloterdijk’s atmoterrorism, etc.

Regarding mapping, we discussed the map as a 100% designed artefact that articulates a relationship to a spacetime from a particular point of view. Cartography is therefore a worlding project and the skills of mapping can be used by inhabitants of a space to shift the mainstream narrative. I emphasised that their approaches should be innovative and leave land-based maps behind, to paraphrase Tim Choy.

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Discussing initial ideas to mapping atmosphere before we ventured out.

What did we learn?

The students had 90 minutes to prototype a mapping process that engaged with atmosphere. They presented their process at the end of the session and opened up to questions.

The results revealed insights that were unique to the inhabitants of the space. One group focussed on noise pollution emanating from the nearby building site, linking the qualities of sounds to different emotional states. The other group created their own Atmosphere Pollution Index, developing criteria for a ‘creative climate’ and ranking their own design studio atmospheres.

There was a magic moment when we were listening to the audio recordings collected by the building site: when the recorder was placed in the grass, the drilling and hammering all faded away. It was a literal grass-roots approach to mapping!

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The outdoor context of the workshop.


Related paper:

Howe, C. and Boyer, D. (2016). Aeolian Extractivism and Community Wind in Southern Mexico. Public Culture, 28(2 79): 215-235.