Data visualization - Haiti i chok (Haiti in shock)

Haiti i chock is a physical, interactive installation that people experience along with posters to visualize data about mental illness in Haiti just after the earthquake in 2010. We wanted to use data to create a campaign to  raise awareness about mental illness in Haiti and motivate Danes in the small town of Kolding to donate to the cause. The earthquake exposed the extreme inadequacies of Haiti's mental health services at the critical moment when it was needed the most. The county's only hospital for acute mental illnesses evacuated most of it's patients and only a few had returned. The limited infrastructure was compounded by the fact that Haitian culture doesn’t acknowledge mental illness so it's not talked about. This led to a high suicide rate in the period just after the earthquake. We needed to do something to help Haiti emotionally.  

2010, 4 week long project with Janika L, Paola B and Petter S

CREATING AWARENESS 

A poster with the date, location and very brief details of the event was meant to create curiosity. This poster was accompanied by single black balloons in different locations around the town.

SETTING UP THE INSTALLATION

We met with the mayor of Kolding and requested the use of the courtyard of the town hall. We knew there was a Sunday market in the morning and we wanted to set up right after that so that we could catch the attention of people still in the area. We transported rubble from a construction junkyard and set up the space to resemble rubble. We placed the black balloons around this central installation.

INTERACTING WITH THE INSTALLATION

Viewers were encouraged to go up to the installation. The instructions on the tag asked them to burst the black balloons symbolizing the sadness of Haitians and release the yellow ones representing hope and happiness. The other side of the balloons provided details on how they could donate to Doctors without Borders. Engaging with the balloons and playing an active, albeit symbolic, role in transforming the situation resonated with the audience and encouraged many people to donate.

After they had completed the physical interaction, participants would see the data visualization poster that drove home the point about psychological support needed in Haiti at the time. 

© 2020 by Shruti Aditya Chowdhury