Meetings last week expanded ideas so that doing the first part of the research is well considered and shifts the focus from race and ethnicity to ideas of transition and transformation. This will shift the emphasis from focusing on difference to something broader and wider. So I’m simplifying a lot here, but with the dementia work, there is a shifting of a sense of self over time. Looking at the experience of people who have migrated to this country offers the perspective of transition over space and how a sense of self is articulated through this transition. With the personhood and dementia work Jayne has done, the significance of other things – people and our environment – as important to contributing or constructing a sense of who we are. There is a negotiation of the self through and of the world, including our family and friends. I guess the main question I have at the moment is how do people articulate or make sense of transition and transformation over space? Also when people make a conscious change geographically and culturally to migrate to another region or country, how do they experience and articulate that change and how, if at all, does that impact on a sense of self? The research is not a comparative study, but one which looks at migration as a possible exaggerated instance of how transformation and change of self might occur through the experience of a cultural and spatial shift. I guess there is also a question about people who migrate, do they show exaggerated factors of a particular instance of transition over space, or is that an assumption? David Morley in Home Territories: Media, Home, Mobility (London: Routledge 2000) suggests that most people in the UK still stay in the same town where they grew up. Morley highlights that people who move away are a minority, rather than majority and describes how media consumption has extended ideas of a particular kind of virtual rather than physical mobility. But surely this is played out differently in different parts of the UK and in different spaces, home, work and public and are we any less mobile or any more mobile than we were 100, 200 or 3000 years ago?So laying out ideas for the cultural probes and a quick re-read of Gaver’s work on Probes highlighted the importance of uncertainty rather than a specific set of questions. It was just good to be reminded of the Situationist foundations of the work and the playful, subjective and exploratory nature of the responses that are produced. I think I was focusing too much on specific things I might want to understand about people, rather than thinking of them in these ways. Also being aware of the framing these kinds of intervention offers for people to articulate their sense of self and tell their stories, it also requires an empathic stance, viewing people’s lives through our own. An important thing I need to remember is the idea of how room for personal interest in the process is managed and manifests, through and with people. I’m sure in a design process there are points of negotiation and alignment, compromise and diversion which happens in situ as a kind of event which unfolds. Thinking of the probes in this light enables me to spread the ideas out a little so they are not so directed towards information, but something more thought provoking, ambiguous and playful which people might enjoy thinking about and doing.
I’ve started off with images, a visual sense of some of the themes and words and how they might manifest, visually, materially, culturally. So the visual map above are some of the ideas I’m playing with at the moment to think about the spatial aspects of people and place and the different threads people create between and across space. I’ve been looking at the work of Grayson Perry – above – and the weaving together of personal, political and social maps he has made. They provide a much more representational sense of how a person might perceive and present themselves spatially and socially, rather than thinking about maps as something just geographical. Some of his work has drawn from Medieval maps which represented the beliefs of what people thought the world looked like, often through personal and collective imagination, myth and storytelling.