Technology, Representation and Design ("Data Walks")

Fall 2017
Yanni Loukissas
LMC 6312
Today, data on communities in Atlanta are more accessible than ever. Micro and macro changes in the makeup of local neighborhoods can be tracked through tax records, demolition and construction permits, and community surveys, among other sources; all of which might be easily downloaded by anyone with an internet connection. But data can be available, without necessarily being accessible. In this course, students from across disciplines will examine how data can be made accessible and interpretable through public interventions in the form of “data walks” designed to open dialogue about ecological, social, and economic changes along the Beltline. The Beltline is one of the most important ongoing works of city infrastructure in Atlanta. The project is currently under construction along a loop of disused railroad tracks that circumvent the city, stitching together some of Atlanta’s most historic neighborhoods and bringing with it new facilities for recreation, transportation, and housing greatly needed by a growing “Intown” population. But does the Beltline make communities along its path more sustainable? The course will investigate how, through a series of hybrid physical and virtual “walks” through data, we might foster public discussion about this question. LMC 6312 will combine aspects of a seminar and a project studio. Early in the term, students will read and discuss theories of sustainable urbanism, social studies of data, and critical approaches to information design. Thereafter, students will develop their own “data walk” projects using sidewalk installations, projections, audio, or augmented reality in order to create a movable forum for critical reflection on sustainable communities, but also on public data. The course will continue an ongoing collaboration with Housing Justice League, a grassroots organization with a mission to encourage equitable development. It is meant to equip students with the skills and resources necessary to think critically about the city through its data. This course is open to graduate students of all majors. 
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