Artist Creates Visual Diary of Color-Coded Emotions

Portuguese designer Luis Giestas recorded his emotions, at every hour, for 300 days, and laid out the result in a series of color-coded diaries.  The project started as an exercise in dealing with anxiety, and unfolded to explore and document the whole range of basic universal emotions as represented by distinct colors.


photo courtesy of the artist



The artist’s color-coded matrix, entitled “Soft Cover Emotions,” is largely based on psychologist Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions.


photo courtesy of the artist



The result is a series of three visual diaries, each one adding a twist to the initial premise. The first volume displays the sheer variety of emotions one goes through in a single day.  The second version shows us that the emotions we feel and the ones we express are not always the same, while the third volume plays with expectations, reality and memories.


photo courtesy of the artist



The emotions range from serenity to ecstasy, or from pensiveness to grief. The unconscious hours of sleep are represented in black.


photo courtesy of the artist



The second volume introduces a twist to the premise: each page is divided in two; the bottom half showing the emotions that are felt and the top half displaying the emotions expressed.


photo courtesy of the artist



Whenever there is a discrepancy between what is felt and what is expressed, a split line is created in the middle of the page.


photo courtesy of the artist



The third volume explores the issues of expectations and memory.  The top third shows the emotions expected the following day; the middle section displays the emotions felt in the present moment; and the bottom shows the emotions recalled 24 hours later.  The emotions that cannot be recalled or predicted are displayed in white. 
This exhaustive and repetitive process of recording ended up inspiring other issues, such as the expression of our feelings, how we are constantly surprised about what we expect to feel even during our daily routine, and our capacity to have a clear image of our emotions and store them in our memory.

This color-based project resulted in some important insights, the artist points out.  “Before starting the project I thought I had a clear sense of how I feel, and now I know that the image I have of myself is a very unstable approximation of an ever-changing stream of emotions.  This is something we all know in a way, but to be able to see the graphical evidence of it as represented by color made the painstaking process of recording completely worth it.”