Sourcemap is designed to enable everyone to explore and share information on the everyday products we buy and use. The web site turns basic information into both maps visualising the journeys and also carbon footprints.
Natalie Jeremijenko uses this idea as a teaching tool and examples of students’ work can be seen at the How Stuff Is Made (or here) site. How Stuff Is Made takes the exercise a stage further through visual essays that look at labour conditions and local environmental impacts.
These are complimented by The Story of Stuff, an excellent animation and teaching resource which started through a generic story of stuff as a way to engage people, and in particular young people, with issues around consumerism, and has expanded by focusing on particular types of stuff including bottled water, cosmetics and electronics.
Another take on it is the feral trade project initiated by Kate Rich where products are transported by being passed from hand to hand by couriers who volunteer their services. Whilst some of the data made visible by the other projects is not foregrounded in this project, another aspect, personal interactions, is the key focus.
Kate Foster’s Stable at Ambient Temperatures explores the migration patterns of birds seeking to remain in perpetual summer, with the movements of aeroplanes. The site includes the discussions with various authorities regarding bringing a museum study specimen of a swallow from the Hunterian Collection into South Africa, the irony being that millions of swallows fly themselves to and from South Africa each year.
Please add comments to this post if you know of other examples of creative and interactive approaches to understanding the systems that underpin consumerism and overdevelopment, but also highlighted our connectedness across the planet.