Imagining the Details: Happy Places and Creative Geovisualization

Jin-Kyu Jung, Ted Hiebert


Imagining the Details explores the imagination as a social gesture and a way to creatively and empathically engage with and around questions of homelessness and urban precarity.  We believe that the complexity of social living cannot be adequately mapped using only rational, data-driven, or informatic methods—and we consequently aim to re-imagine what counts as data, searching for ways to include affective and creative methods in a re-imagining of urban space. This collaboration between a geographer and an artist engages questions of community, geographic precarity, and homelessness and insists on the emotional, affective, and imagined aspects of urban living. By integrating a next level of social interaction, we move further into participatory territory, social, generative and experiential forms of dialogue, mapping and art making. Our aim is to engage the stories of others through mapping and imagining, adding layers of complexity through different representational and non-representation strategies – ‘mapping’ that preserves, represents, and generates a strongly nuanced, contextual, and deeply contingent representation of urban unhoused. And—importantly—new ways of ‘imagining’ how to engage with others, different strata of community (some homeless, others not), who share our urban landscape. This paper shares contextualizing thoughts and design strategies for a project currently in the final stages of development, using multimodal forms of data alongside the metaphor of the "happy place" as a catalyst for imagining some of the complexities of urban precarity.

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