Sensory Mapping /// Closing Tabs

This week’s tab-closing is all about sensory mapping – many people are wandering into the world of mapping the senses and a lot of very interesting problems are being faced. There are growing questions about what the purpose of geographical accuracy holds in the spatial representation of the senses. As well, the purpose of the map is called into question – is it for planning purposes, or to experience the senses of the world? What is the point of ‘collecting’ and archiving sensory experiences? Interestingly many of the maps and analyses have come out of the UK.

Sensory Mapping 1

(Photo copyright Joe Cornish)

British Coast Sound Map 

During the summer of 2015, the British Library is crowdsourcing a map of the sounds of the UK coast. The Library basically collects the sounds and posts them to the coordinates of the recording location. The result is a Google map with several points corresponding to different sounds throughout the UK’s coast. The aim was to have a permanent archive of the sounds of the UK summer. Interestingly the British Library already has an enormous collection of sound recordings in their holdings. Some of the holdings can be seen here:


Sensory mapping 3

(Photo copyright Kate McLean, Daniele Quercia, Rossano Schifanella and Luca Maria Aiello)

London’s Stinkmap 

Another map by UK designer Kate McLean, along with three computer scientists. The stinkmaps are visualizations of tags and words from social media posts, based on smell-words. The words were collected into a few categories (animals, food, emissions, nature) using algorithms that found word clusters.  Apparently the group has made the first dictionary of urban scents, containing about 285 words in English.


Sensory Mapping 4

(Photo copyright the Sound Survey UK)

Mapping the sound of London’s waterways 

This is a map collecting sounds of along London’s canals and streams. The map is based on the London Tube map. It always seems like subway map design is often a popular way to visualize data – people seem always to be attracted to these forms of maps.


Sensory Mapping 5

(Photo copyright

Questioning Sound Maps

From the same blog as the waterways sound map, is an interesting critique of sound maps that are overly dependent on spatial accuracy (specifically Google maps). The post discusses different ways in which sound mapping and web design are being creatively developed on the internet. It also contains a treasure trove of interesting interactive sound websites.


Sensory Mapping 6

(Photo copyright Eric Moschopedis and Mia Rushton)

Tasting Toronto through neighbourhood vegetation

This event took place at the Luminato Festival this past June and involved two artists cooking plant life from three iconic Torontonian neighbourhoods. The idea would be to give a sense of what the different communities ‘taste like’. The artists cook the plant material and serve it as meals for attendees.


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