Deep Inside-esposizione internazionale di architettura

Firenze-Stazione Leopolda, spazio Alcatraz

2-12 ottobre 2003

CychoPolis_Marcos Lutyens_Daniela Frogheri 2003©
Developing a Psychosensorial map of the city of Cagliari, Sardinia.

Urban Strategies of design were challenged in a new way by the Situationists in the 1950's when Guy Debord developed the idea of the "dérive", or a mapping of the city based on chance experiences, rather than the surveyor's theodolite. 
With the "dérive", the new type of mappers were expected to drop their usual work and leisure activities, as well as all their usual motives for movement and action, and wander through the city, attracted by certain traits and encounters that 
were recorded so as to make up a "psycho geographic" terrain. With our project, Cychopolis, the participants were not just asked to drop their usual habits of behavior, but more especially, their acquired habits of thought, so as to sense the city from a completely personal and embodied point of view.

In order to map the city from a vantage point that is uncontaminated by externally formed ideas given to us through peer-pressure or assimilated through education, the 30 engineering students were asked to emotionally evaluate the terrain directly from the unconscious. The students were divided into groups and asked to choose 6 different points in the city of 
Cagliari. Each point corresponded to one of 6 different categories: commerce, circulation, public spaces, public buildings, private spaces and green spaces. Each student then listened to a short hypnotic induction in the selected places. The audio 
hypnosis allowed the students undergo a temporary lapse of acquired knowledge and memory, followed by commands to open up 
the senses to the location. In trance, the students drew, or imprinted their impressions, and upon awaking, precisely described their experience.

Although the individual experiences were interesting in themselves, often revealing surprising and almost synesthetic or narrative emotional textures of the locations, what we were most interested in was finding common patterns, or emotional nodes or vortexes that run through the city. In order to build up a psycho-sensorial map of Cagliari, we asked the students to evaluate each location according to the four basic parameters of experience as established by Carl Jung : sensing and intuition, feeling and thinking, as well as whether the experience seemed embedded more in the past , present or future. 
The students were also asked to grade the impact of their experience on a scale of 1 to 10. This gave us an enormous set of data which could then be mapped back into the city of Cagliari. We began to see that certain areas or zones elicited a strong, intuitive response, whereas other areas or zones seemed, for instance, to arouse feelings. In this way, the map of cagliari begins to distort itself, with larger values or topographical "humps" emerging where students responded most strongly, and locations of weaker psycho-sensorial response begin to shrink. This type of mapping seems to mirror the idea of the "homunculus", or the mapping of the senses on the cerebral cortex. Just as hands and feet have more processing power devoted to them in the brain than let us say the shoulders, and as an extension our hands and feet occupy a larger sensorial terrain than our shoulders, so our mapping of Cagliari, inaccurate to the eye of the surveyor and the theodolite, is, in a certain sense, a more accurate measure of how the city is experienced.

These are images of our animated robotic installation that deformed a projected map of Cagliari corresponding to positive and negative impressions throughout the city. The 36 servo controlled points rose and fell as the data was fed into the animation and cycled through the 6 different categories of city environments.

additional collaboration: Christina Clar, Oliver Hess, Pascuale Frogheri.

Thanks to other collaborators and engineering students from the Universita di ingeneria di Cagliari