Where Are You From?: Participatory Mapping with New Yorkers (2015)
“Where Are You From?” is a data visualization (data string) installation that evolved with people’s participation, unveiling social pattern with the information given by participants in Bryant Park in New York City. Because of the unique demographics of NYC that shows its broad ethnic diversity, I was wondering where people originally came from and also curious about their immigration and travel stories.
Participatory Mapping with New Yorkers
Where Are You From?
"Augmenting open communication between strangers in Bryant Park through a simple design intervention."
This unique cultural participatory mapping project idea was based on the diversity within our team members as Me, Leyla and Tongwen were from different ethnic, cultural backgrounds: Korean, Iranian, American and Chinese.
From our first visit to Bryant Park in New York City, we wondered where all people came from to the central area of New York City. Therefore, our target audience of our “Instruction Sets for Strangers” project are the people who gather in Bryant Park. We wanted to connect their hometown to Bryant Park to keep track of their origins. For our participatory design project, we set up a huge world map at the corner of the park and asked people for participation to connect their original hometown to Bryant Park by using color threads of each continent.
“Where Are You From?” is a participatory geo-mapping (data string) installation that evolved with people’s participation, unveiling hidden social patterns with the information given by participants on the spot in Bryant Park in New York City.
It was an interesting social experiment through design intervention to gather their immigration and travel stories from people in NYC, the city has unique demographics that shows its broad ethnic diversity.
Bryant Park is located in the center of Manhattan. The park has a unique history and location which is in close approximation to the Time Square area, an assembly point that people from all over the world gather in. New Yorkers use the park to relax and socialize with others, but there are also a lot of travelers who are there to sight-see. All people strolling around the park have different backgrounds. We tracked the origin and hometown of the people who gather in the park. This project was a great experience of observing users and creating interaction between strangers by our design intervention. The final output is a unique example of participatory data mapping.
To find a right spot to install the data string design intervention to interact with strangers in the crowded Bryant Park, we started to observe people and surroundings in the park. We spent three different days observing the morning, afternoon, and evening activity to find what exactly sets this park apart from all the others in New York. Here are our results:
To achieve our concept of collecting data of where the patrons of Bryant Park live, we created a large outline of a world map for strangers to interact with. We also displayed instructions to place a pin at the location of their hometown and tie a string from that pin to Bryant Park in New York City.
We set up on Sunday, September 27 from 5pm to 7pm in a corner on the south side of the park where we were expecting a lot of foot traffic. We had a variety of ages from toddlers to senior citizens who were eager to interact with our map. As individuals and small groups grabbed pins, we had many observers who stood just to watch. We also had tourists, who were fascinated enough to take photographs of our work and some selfies were taken.
Understanding the demographic
62 People from 35 different countries participated in our intense 2-hours mapping project. It shows the diversity in the city which emphasizes the concept of our project.
Participation, Engagement, Interaction
We classified the participants' behaviors to interact with our designed intervention into three parts: Participation: People enjoyed participating by pinning their country and onlookers gathered to watch. Engagement: Senior citizens were the most nostalgic and told us stories of their roots and home country. Interaction: Strangers connected with each other by discussing their home countries and many selfies were taken.
Demographics: North America had 14 visitors. South America had 9 visitors. Europe had 17 visitors. Africa had 5 visitors. Middle East had 4 visitors. Asia had 10 visitors. Australia/New Zealand had 3 visitors.