Where have you laughed the hardest? Where was your faith in humanity restored? Where did you feel the intensity of your own cruelty?
These questions and their answers serve as the motivation behind XYZ Atlas, a multi-year project mapping shared experiences through art. Created by visual artist and activist Jennifer Chenoweth, XYZ Atlas is an interactive and collaborative public art initiative that reveals and visualizes how we are connected – both to one another and to our surroundings. Taking its title from cartography, “XYZ” relates to geographical coordinates while “Atlas” characterizes the project’s map-based components. Established in 2013, the project has presented numerous pop-up art exhibitions, sitespecific installations and performance works. Chenoweth’s pieces have appeared in publications like Gotham, Austin Way, The Austin Chronicle, and Tribeza, among many others. In 2016 alone, the project was highlighted in a wide variety of media outlets for its innovative approach to emotional associations with place.
XYZ Atlas began with the idea of how we find attachment to place. Where do people experience excitement, sadness, happiness, love, joy, or frustration – and how do these emotions affect our understanding and experience of that place? Are these emotional attachments specific to an individual person, or are there places that convey a larger collective experience?
With these questions in mind, Chenoweth began researching different theories of pain and pleasure and developed a 20-question survey to determine where people experienced their most powerful emotional events in a specific region. Then, using psychologist Robert Plutchik’s Theory of Emotions and his color wheel, she charts and keys these responses to a color spectrum of emotions. By reframing the idea of place not as stretches of land, streets, or buildings but as places connected to emotion, XYZ Atlas serves as an interactive and multi-dimensional way of charting emotional moments that have created meaning in people’s lives. The overarching purpose of the project is to reveal the ways that emotional experiences can create a dynamic sense of place and strengthen people’s bonds with their community, while also indicating where people have experiences that create individual or collective attachments to a city.
XYZ Atlas will display on the cafe walls starting on May 15, you won’t want to miss this moving exhibit.
For more information about this project, visit their website here.