Public Lab Research note

Thermal Camera Used For Community Mapping

by julsy709 | December 18, 2014 11:23 18 Dec 11:23 | #11481 | #11481

Our thermal camera was used to locate significant temperature increases within an urban area in St. John's, Newfoundland. For those who have never been here, there are two important factors at play here. The first is physical geography: St. John's is on the far, far east end of the Newfoundland island, on the Avalon Peninsula. Around this area is where the Gulf Stream meets the Labrador Current. This makes for fog, rapidly changing weather, but most importantly in the winter: wind. Cold, bitter wind, Lots of it.

The second factor is social. For hundreds of years, much of Newfoundland was comprised of extremely isolated outport fishing communities that retained land traditions from pre-industrial Europe, where early settlers had come from. This included shared, open-field systems called the Commons. Forced relocation policies of the 50s and 60s emptied many of these outports, moving residents into urban areas where land and space were no longer communal.

The Commons was the motif we wanted to use to avoid being prescriptivist with the potential of our located "hot spots." An obvious use would be homeless dwelling; however, heat is not the only factor that influences where a homeless person would sit, we have to consider light, sound, proximity to fruitful panhandling, and hostile business owners as well. Plus, everyone is the expert of their own lives, duh, and how condescending is it for a university school project to pretend to decide where homeless people should go? Therefore, this project was focused on seeking out warm spots for community used within privately owned urban space. In the Commons tradition, when land is unused, anyone who needs it is welcome to it.

The above map was distributed in a one-page zine. communitymap.jpg


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