Awkward_NYC, or The New York City Map of Awkward Social interactions in Public Spaces, is a collaborative online map for reporting social accidents and small interpersonal traumas that occur unexpectedly in public spaces. The map pinpoints sites in the New York Metropolitan area where misunderstandings, outbursts, physical altercations, arguments between friends or strangers, and romantic spats or break-ups have occurred. These mishaps are characteristic of the human urban experience– they’re unsettling, often comic, strangely powerful mini-narratives and dramas that would otherwise go untold, but may linger in memory for months and years, as we move through the same urban landscapes, day in and day out.
Anyone can add a story to the map; the project is fully web-based and participatory. The map taps into the confessional, voyeuristic, narrative impulses that typify online behavior and subverts the notion of mapping as reductive, objective, and authoritative. As stories are added to the map, a series of data visualizations depicting the emotional terrain of the city will be generated.
Awkward_NYC is a 2012 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts for its Turbulence website. It was made possible with funds from the Jerome Foundation. Thanks to Rodrigo De Benito and Adam Lassy for troubleshooting code.