Sagacity project captures Dundee’s online emotions

The Periodic Table of Emotions uses Twitter to display Dundee's varied emotions. Photo: Dundee Digital Design.
The Periodic Table of Emotions uses Twitter to display Dundee's varied emotions. Photo: Dundee Digital Design.
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A “Periodic Table of Emotions” designed to reflect the moods of Dundee uses Twitter to work out how people are feeling in their everyday lives and is colour-coded to showcase feelings.

The Sagacity scheme, developed by artist Aidan Moesby and the Small Society Lab at Dundee Contemporary Arts, aims to apply “mood assessment processes” commonly used to support mental health patients to the discovery and influence of prevailing moods within the city.

Geolocated data gathered from Twitter was used to first define the keywords that were used to express different emotional states. The project then worked with mental health experts and social media users to assess the value behind these terms in their artwork and apply them to the software programme.

Aidan said: “As someone who worked within psychotherapy before I became an artist, I am passionate about emotional intelligence. How can we really say how we feel, or reflect how the city feels without using an emotional language?

“This led me to thinking about how we could combine all these elements. That was it - a turn of phrase held the answer. We all have our own weight to words and emotions - my ‘okay’ might be your ‘brilliant’ or someone’s ‘not great really’, so I set about creating a Periodic Table of Emotions - something which previously has not existed.”

Dundonians are encouraged to tweet their emotions online, as those emotions coded into the software will lead elements of the periodic table to glow brighter and reflect the diverse emotional outlook of the city. The emotions gradually fade to white over time until they are mentioned again.

Sagacity also featured involvement by Nick Taylor and Jon Rogers of the University of Dundee and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. Clive Gilman, formerly a director of Dundee Contemporary Arts, was also on hand to participate.

Nicola Prosser was the Graphic Designer who committed the limited-edition archival pigment print of the project to paper. With 118 prints made in total, this production number mirrors the number of emotions in the table.

The digital and print version of the Sagacity Periodic Table of Emotions are currently being exhibited in Life Space at Dundee University in an exhibition curated by Sarah Cook. They are also being showcased at various Digital Health events and Arts and Health events around the UK.

Both the digital and print versions of the artwork are heading to Adelaide and the Australia Network for Arts and Technology where Aidan has a residency at the end of October.

Aidan added: “This is a reflective barometer of how the city is feeling. Hopefully it encourages people to make Dundee a good place to be, to become active engaged citizens - after all, a sense of belonging and investment in where we live contributes to more positive mental health.”

Aidan Moesby is based in Newcastle, with much of his work focusing on the use of routine to make sense of the world and relationships between people and place. As an artist and curator, he is notable for his use of typography and the value he places upon conversation as the central motif of his work.

You can stay updated with the project by following Sagacity on Twitter.