Moodboarding as Method

how do our cities think about our moods? How can affective elements of lived experience, such as moods, be more effectively woven into data-driven systems of information in cities? What do we do with ‘mood’ as data when it is so ineffable, sensory, tactile, and most importantly, beyond the flattening and standardizing forms of digital data aggregation and analysis?

This project is a series of four participatory engagement workshops in 2022 to bring people together to think about the moods of their cities and to playfully assemble physical, sensory-oriented moodboards that evoke the feeling of their city. Beginning with a workshop in each of the cities involved, the Project aims to facilitate conversations between city planners, place-makers, and community members so that space is held for many voices, different knowledges, and potentially competing interests. Whether through building visually layered accounts or generating alternative mappings of their cities, this project seeks to bring sensory data to the table.

Why do this? Over the past decade or so, cities have inevitably focused more attention on data as an integral part of urban planning and design. This trend continues to grow with Web3, whereby hybrid digital/physical infrastructures such as “digital twins” grow out of massive data collection, aggregation and analytics. Within the continued rush toward datafication, actively repositioning the relationship of data to human attitudes, perceptions, or behaviors can help bring the humanness of humans back into the loop of how lived experience is measured and assessed.

This project engages this problem with two approaches that challenge cities to consider how emotion and mood might be added back into now-common data gathering. Moodboarding draws on a common practice in design fields and advertising or marketing practices to build visual and sensory layers that initially explore and later convey particulars ‘mood’. Hybrid Mapping is a technique for exploring various agential forces operating in specific contexts, and draws on three disciplinary domaines: GIS mapping, layered accounts in interpretive sociology, and situational analysis in postmodern feminism.

Workshops are being held in Barcelona (June 2022), Brunswick (September 29, 2022), Melbourne (October 5, 2022), and Ho Chi Minh City (late October 2022). Contact the project lead, Annette Markham, for more information. Or visit the PlaceLab website for updates.

Barcelona event was held as part of Barcelona Design Week and the New European Bauhaus Festival. It was co-sponsored by RMIT Europe, with thanks to Patricia Lore and Marta Fernandez.

Melbourne workshop is held alongside The Big Anxiety, with many thanks to Larissa Hjorth for her help in coordinating and facilitating this workshop.

Vietnam workshop is coordinated onsite by RMIT Vietnam design researchers Andrew Stiff and Catherine Earl, along with partners at University of Architecture.

Moodboarding as a method was initially developed as the 2018 version of Visuality, Culture, and Method, a bi-annual PhD summer school organized by Annette Markham. Moodboarding as Method was developed and taught by Katrin Tiidenberg, Annette Markham, Anne Marit Waade, and Gillian Rose as an instantiation of the bi annual PhD summer school ‘Visuality, Culture, and Method’ at Aarhus University.




September 15, 2022

Are you interested? Please let us know if you would like to participate in a ‘Mapping Moods for Future Cities’ workshop, an initiative to explore how the maps of our cities might change if we included more affective information like moods.    Wednesday 5th October  1pm – 3pm   17-21 Cardigan St, Carlton VIC 3053  (Spaces Limited, by invitation only) ...