For some reason, I felt it was important to narrow down my thesis topic to focus on tourism for my last DR class. I’ve since completely changed my interests, but it is still fascinating how dependent we are on maps to guide us in a new place. If one point on a map is omitted, then we don’t have the knowledge and have a very small chance of experiencing that place. With different approaches to mapping, designers can completely transform the experience of a place for visitors and residents. Christian Nold created a fascinating internet-based project where people wore sensors that recorded their response to different surroundings on a map, and they were able to write in their personal annotation for that place. He created one for many different cities, but here is the East Paris Emotion Map. Based on the feedback I received from the presentation, a potential thesis topic would focus on how we as designers can change the perception of a neighborhood. Also, what is the difference between the expectations of a place and the actual experience once you arrive?
A snippet from the presentation:
Traditional notions of tourism promote the idea of human circulation as a commodity, guiding tourists from one place of consumption to the next. This leads to the trivialization of place and the dilution of culture, because the culture itself becomes the commodity to be consumed. The true discovery of a city is found in-between the typical tourist attractions; for example, one doesn’t experience Paris at the Eiffel tower but among the myriad streets and neighborhoods along the way.
Homogenization of our cities is a significant problem that decreases value of all new cultural artifacts and degrades the historical value of a place. Designers have the ability to tell the story of a place, and to create enjoyment in the casual encounter of a city for tourists and residents alike. Our surroundings provide valuable references to natural organization, pattern and form, and sensitivity to these visual cues can provide a valuable connection to place in design solutions.
Traditional approaches to tourism and place branding cause a lack of connection to the communities we visit because of the belief in culture as a commodity to consume. The speed and acculturation of globalization leads to dilution of culture and the trivialization of place.
This is the skeleton outline for the written paper that I presented in class (mostly topics for further research):
B. Place Branding
C. Online communities
B. Crowd-sourced mapping
3. Forms in our surroundings
A. Perception and visual intelligence
B. Application to design
4. Embodied Communication
B. Survey Research
5. Use Communities
A. For tourists (car/bike sharing)
B. For residents (office space, tools)
A. Art Centers/Residencies
B. Craft Fairs and other Events
C. Branding of local businesses
D. Slow Cities