Lumiere Durham

In November 2017 I showed Sagacity :The Periodic Table of Emotions at Lumiere Durham. This was part of the Brilliant strand which took 5 local artists and assisted them in developing ideas to show during the festival. Working with Artichoke Trust was great introduction to light festivals and working in an outdoor urban environment.

‘Sagacity’ is an interactive installation based around the Periodic Table which aims to reflect the emotional state of its’ location. The audience are invited to tweet how they are feeling, or how they are responding to their event or environment using a specific hashtag. When one of the emotional words from the Periodic Table of Emotions is detected it begins to become illuminated. As the emotion is tweeted more the colour/ intensity of illumination increases.

The emotions are grouped according to type and coloured accordingly. They are also given an emotional weight. For instance Happy is lighter than Ecstatic, Fondness is lighter than Passion. Similarly feeling Sad is not as heavy as feeling Desolate. Low emotions are coloured blue, happy and love, red. Anger is purple and so on.

The Periodic Table of emotions exists as a print as well as an interactive installation. The installation runs from a programme made in processing, combining sentiment analysis, which can read Twitter, identify geographic location of tweeters and even read the local newspaper to identify key emotional words.

Sagacity acts as a barometer of the emotional state of its location. As it reflects it aims to catalyse conversations, about why we are feeling the way we do about where we are. However, it is up to those who occupy that location to respond and initiate change.

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A more technical explanation is given below

There are many software tools available that aim to support individuals to measure and define their mood and to represent this in ways that might symbolically or graphically allow better self-awareness and insight. We have taken the aspirations represented by the NHS-supported Project Ginsberg and constructed a project that will research and develop methods through which these mood assessment processes could be used to define and influence the mood of an entire city.

We set out to work with processes that are often used to support those within the mental health system and extend these to generate a reflexive barometer that will support visible manifestations of the city’s attitude and mental health. Our approach has been in two stages, firstly defining the terms of the mood capture process through building a mechanism for sentiment analysis – capturing geolocated social media texts and looking for keywords and then measuring the dynamic significance and weight of these terms to produce a metric and representative measure of the ‘mood’ of Dundee.

The terms and their weighting have evolved through a social process in which both service users of mental health support systems and the community of social media active people, originally in Dundee, have been invited to comment and review the mood as it is tracked and represented. This early phase allowed us to establish an appropriate assessment and monitoring process which has enabled the second phase to work towards a physical manifestation of this system being constructed as an intervention in the city.

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