Complex City: Student Designed Animated Maps

» 18 December 2011 » In Ed Tech, Events, Guest post, How To, Students, Visualizations »

ComplexCity
Complex City

I recently featured a guest post from High Tech High's David Stahnke and Margaret Noble that detailed their award-winning student multimedia exhibit "Illuminated Mathematics."

Margaret is back with another student project, partner and guest post.
Text by Rachel Nichols and Margaret Noble.

Complex City: Animated Maps of San Diego
Project and student exhibition developed and coordinated by High Tech High teachers - Rachel Nichols (English) and Margaret Noble (Multimedia).
Link to the Complex City exhibit site with additional student work.

Our Essential (Guiding) Questions

San Diego's military bases drastically outnumber the facilities meant to help veterans with post war trauma. ~ Tobi Brik
  • How do we help students to become more aware of their surroundings, in order to foster an educated, ethical, and empathetic community?
  • How do we facilitate opportunities that help students translate experiences, investigations, and ideas into artistic renderings that effectively communicate new knowledge?

Summary
We devised an experiential project, "Complex City" in order to help students think critically about their communities. In asking them to map an area of San Diego that had significance to them, we wanted them to step back from the familiar aspects of their community and city, and translate those aspects into a visual map. As part of this project, students researched, interviewed, and investigated their city and community in myriad ways. What they once thought was familiar suddenly became very unknown. By compiling their work and making collective and idiosyncratic maps of San Diego, they have been challenged to rethink what they understood to be the reality of the built environment around them, as well as to accept the new knowledges that their classmates contribute. They have become more invested in their own community because their new knowledge implicates them as involved citizens. These maps collect particular versions of this place (versions not always visible to others, or in traditional maps) as we see it in the fall/winter of 2011.

Student Assignment

From pursuing this question my love for marine life grew and my desire to help raise awareness for San Diego's waters grew … I have a responsibility to get reckless boaters to be more cautious. ~ Jasmine Thomas

In this project, you will be making an animated map of San Diego based on your wanderings, interviews, research, and experiences. In short, you will be creating a map of San Diego that collects particular versions of this place (versions not always visible to others, or in traditional maps). Using Rebecca Solnit’s Infinite City as one model, and our own creative explorations as another, we will be collecting data in the form of sounds, photos, historical information, interviews, and ephemera, and we will be compiling this data to make a series of complementary, contradictory, confounding or even contestatory maps of San Diego. We will be looking at Infinite City in detail, as well as working with archivists, historians, and community members to think creatively about mapping.

Bench Marks
Research Paper Outline, Story Board of Map – Oral Presentations
Rough Research Draft Paper, Map Draft 2, Final Research Paper
Map Animation Draft 1 with Critiques, Map Animation Revised with Critiques, Final Animation
Public Exhibition – Projection Art and Research Presentations

 
Complex City Public Exhibition
Complex City Public Exhibition

Three Essential Components:

1. Research Audio: 2-3 interviews relating to the theme/topic of your map. Each of these interviews will take the final form of a 2-3 minute piece, edited down from a 45-minute interview. Also record ambient noise and sonic data from your theme/topic. See example at The Soundlines Project.

2. Textual: a. One 6-8 page final paper per group (double-spaced; between 1500-2000 words). This draft should be divided into sections that include historical information, relevant current facts and anecdotes, and a critical analysis of the map and its meaning. The draft should be clearly marked as to which member of the group authored which sections. We will critique and workshop these papers.
b. Type a transcript from each of your interviews to turn in with final paper (due November 18th)

3. Visual: design, cartography and photography relevant to your project inquiry.

Project resources courtesy of Rachel Nichols and Margaret Noble

  • Gem City Atlas Rebecca Solnit's work with students at the University of Wyoming
  • Gap Minder- A non-profit venture- a modern "museum" on the Internet - promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
  • Excellent interactive map that details the 2010 census. Plug in your zip code and see what you find.
  • GeoCommons is the public community of GeoIQ users who are building an open repository of data and maps for the world. The GeoIQ platform includes a large number of features that empower you to easily access, visualize and analyze your data.
  • Strange Maps showcases very cool maps and map ideas.
  • Mike Wirth Art Samples from a very creative designer who makes fantastic infographics.
  • Great mapping ideas at radicalcartography
  • Grassroots Mapping - founded by a group of activists, educators, technologists, and community organizers interested in new ways to promote action, intervention, and awareness through a participatory research model.
  • Motion based collaging ideas from Streaming Festival

Images and videos supplied by Margaret Noble
 

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