The Hedonic Map of Austin launched in 2013 with an interactive exhibition at Co-Lab Projects. Renamed the XYZ Atlas, the project active through 2016 in Austin, Texas.

Through an interactive question and answer series, 503 participants answered a written 20-question survey about their life experiences and where they occurred. Thousands more participated in scale-mapping events.

The locations were captured in a GIS mapping system and coded to an emotional color chart. A positive experience is lifted on the map, and a negative experience is lowered. 

The above map is the first iteration of the Hedonic Map of Austin from 2013, a map of the collective emotional highs and lows of people living in and visiting our city. Artist Jennifer Chenoweth and Geographer David O’Donnell collaborated to create it using ArcScene.

What is the peak? Barton Springs at Zilker Park. It is multi-colored, as it was the repeated answer to several “up” emotion questions, such as “where do you go to reconnect with nature?” and “where do you feel alive and excited?”

In Fall 2015, XYZ Atlas: Experience Map of Bryan and College Station, Texas iterated on the quad at Texas A&M University. The project grew to include the City of Bryan, the City of College Station, the Arts Council of Brazos Valley in Fall 2016 with an exhibition in multiple locations in downtown Bryan in May 2017. This was funded by grants from the Mid-America Arts Alliance and the National Endowment for the Arts.

In March and April 2017, the Downtown Austin Alliance, in partnership with Southwest Airlines and the Project for Public Spaces, commissioned us for a Heart of the Community project: XYZ Atlas: Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas.

The public project culminated in a TEDMED talk released in 2018. The artist Jennifer Chenoweth continues to give presentations at conferences including Niantic and the Knight Foundation's Augmented Cities gathering in 2019, SEGD's conference, and Yale's GIS Day in 2020.

Artist Amy Morrow collaborates with artists and the community to explore the ways the XYZ Atlas can be used to connect and heal by visualizing our emotional experiences that create a sense of belonging.

When emotion is connected to location, location is no longer space, but place.

Jennifer Chenoweth presenting at Augmented Cities conference