XYZ Atlas: The Hedonic Map of Austin is interactive public art about our collective experiences. The project debuted at Co-Lab Projects in East Austin in October 2013. Launched with the support of the City of Austin’s Cultural Arts Division and Parks and Recreation Department, the XYZ Atlas began with an anonymous survey intended to collect participants’ stories and data.
Over three years, more than 45 exhibits, installations and events were produced in Austin at venues such as SXSW, The University of Texas at Austin, the Elisabet Ney Museum, the Thinkery museum, Texas Tribune Fest, and Austin parks. The finale exhibit was held at the Beverly S. Sheffield Splash Gallery at Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park, which was the collective “high” point of experience in Austin. The project was a finalist in SXSW Eco’s Place by Design competition in 2016 and was featured on the cover of Austin Way’s Art of the City edition in 2016.
For the Austin project, we asked 20 questions, 10 “positive” emotion questions, and 10 “negative” emotion questions. This was done using an anonymous Google Survey online, plus paper surveys at events. The questions were:
1. Where is one place you feel alive and excited?
2. Where have you laughed the hardest?
3. Where did you fall in love?
4. Where do you go for the most frequent experience of playfulness?
5. Where do you go to reconnect with nature?
6. Where do you go to get your creativity inspired?
7. Where was your faith in humanity restored?
8. Where have you felt the most competent?
9. Where did you have an experience that caused your awareness to change?
10. Where was the best night of your life in Austin?
11. Where was the worst night of your life in Austin?
12. Where do you experience your own mortality?
13. Where did you feel utter disgust?
14. Where were you terribly afraid?
15. Where were you when you found out your trust had been betrayed?
16. Where was it that you were injured or assaulted?
17. Where did you act like a jackass according to your own standards?
18. Where were you when you lost something or someone irreplaceable?
19. Where did you feel the intensity of your own cruelty?
20. Where did you feel deep sadness?
People gave answers that were a location, and often a story. The locations were given an X and Y coordinate (longitude & latitude), the Z coordinate was a step “up” if positive” and a step “down” if negative, and color coded to the emotion chart.
The stories were collected and some were shared in the catalog.
We created a Spanish language translation for events as well.