The second semester has officially started and I’m upbeat as I handed in my Application to register on Monday so I’m now waiting for a response. I also sent the first draft of my social media chapter to the Digital Media Handbook editors. I’ve still got the case study to write but I need some feedback before I commence this. I also think it’s going to need to be quite heavily edited first.
On Monday I also started my lecturing assignment for David Gauntlett’s creativity module. This consists of seven weeks of lectures given by him and then students are split into four groups with one hour seminar sessions of which I take one. There are also two weeks where we take the students on field trips. The lecture yesterday started an introduction to creativity and its definition. David has a very entertaining and individual delivery style. He likes to precede his talk by eating a banana. Maybe this nutrition energises him.
My first seminar was fairly uneventful. I wanted to stress to the students that it is a time for them to express themselves. I remember from my PGCE doing an essay on Pedagogy v Andragogy where the lecturer is used by the students as a facilitator rather than didactic informer. I got the students to pair up, introduce themselves and report to the class on their partner’s interests and expectations.
Yesterday afternoon I went to the Decode exhibition at the V&A. This is an area I find fascinating as it is about being creative with code. My knowledge of code is limited but I have great admiration for anyone who has. I’ve been excited by the open-source software Processing which has been used extensively by the exhibitors. There are contributions from the established names in the production of generative art like John Maeda and Flight 404 aka Robert Hodgin. This example is voice reactive.
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In the evening I went a talk hosted by One Dot Zero entitled Digital Futures: Storytelling in the Digital Domain as part of the V&A Connects series. There were presentations from Ed Cookson at The Sancho Plan who explained how 3D models respond to people playing real instruments and Andrew Shoben from Greyworld, a company that creates interactive work in outdoor spaces. But the most interesting presentation of the night was by Eva Rucki from Troika. She discussed the making of the Digital Zoetrope in the Decode exhibition. Her main focus though was the ‘cloud’ installation for British Airways at Heathrow Terminal 5. Truly inspiring. Here is a video about it.
[youtube J9LUlADnwAE 460 280]
The snow has nearly gone and yesterday was was a eventful day. I had my monthly meeting with my supervisors in the morning. This time at the British Library which is always an inspiring place to visit. We spoke for about two hours and mainly discussed my impending deadline for the Application to Register and Plan of Work which outline my research. This has to be reviewed and accepted by a panel of academics who judge whether it will contribute to knowledge and is sufficiently original to warrant pursuing.
There were just minor changes to the document and for the rest of the meeting we discussed the practical implications of the research, the books I needed to read. I feel I’m a little deficient in my knowledge of the sociological background surrounding subject so I was recommended some books to read.
Before Christmas, while watching Question Time on BBC One, I applied to be a member of the audience on the programme as it was visiting my local area. On Monday I was called by a producer and last night was in the audience. We were asked to submit two questions and they pick a sample and the author get s to ask the question to the panel. My first Question was about Alastair Campbell and the Iraq Enquiry. My second is about the breaking news story concerning Google adopting to remove censorship from it’s Chinese google.cn website after a cyber attack on its gmail accounts. “Was Google ethically wrong to set-up in China and right to stop playing by the censorship rules now?” This was probably a bit obscure for the likes of a mainstream political programme but in internet circles this is big news. Needless to say I didn’t get to ask either of my questions.
Went down the pub afterwards just in time to watch the end of the Rovers v Villa game on TV. We lost again!
Earlier in the day I visited my Twitter account and found that David Gauntlett has uploaded another of his videos. This covers ideas from his forthcoming book Making is Connecting. He’s very prolific and a bit of a rising star in his field and he’s also building quite a reputation. I feel privileged that he’s my supervisor.
[youtube nF4OBfVQmCI 460 280]
In recent months I’ve been reading more and more about creative research methods. Indeed, my doctoral proposal indicated the use of this method as part of my research process. This workshop is led by Professor David Gauntlett from The University of Westminster who also happens to be my PhD supervisor. Over the summer I read one of his many books, Creative Explorations: New approaches to identities and audiences (2007). This developed my curiosity even further. I’d seen his highly regarded workshop on a YouTube video but I also wanted to participate and experience this first hand.
The workshops take the form of individuals being asked “to make visual representations of their own identities, influences, and relationships.” This is done using Lego Serious Play packs that allow the user to built models. The basic premise being that engagement in a creative activity helps unlock creative potential and encourages participants to offer a more considered and insightful response during research questioning.
Day one begins with two groups of eight people on two tables. Each person is given a box of Serious Play Lego and asked to build a tower as high as possible. Then we’re asked to make an animal. All very straight forward to far. But then comes a distinct change and here is the key. We are now asked to change the animal to reflect how we feel on a Monday morning or a Friday night. In doing so we have moved away from simply building models and into representation of feelings through visual metaphor. This change feels good. But it is also very revealing. In the next few tasks we were asked to build representations of our identities and then explain them to the rest of the group. I found that I was disclosing much more about myself through the visual metaphor and, although I needed to decoded my model when explaining its meaning to the rest of the group, I was surprised how I seem to have done much of this subconsciously. If I had spent time writing this down I would never have revealed as much as I did. It was here that the spark lit in my brain. I could instantly see it’s uses. It gives research participants the opportunity to build a deeper understanding of the subject and illicit a more insightful response. The day ended with each member of the group incorporating part of their modal into one group model (see picture above).
Day two continues the themes of the previous day using other materials like plasticine. Interestingly, I felt that this was less successful as a material because it enables the user to make recognisable objects and this means that the participant is less inclined to use metaphor as visual representation.
Lego Serious Play has many uses outside of the field of research and was developed as “a powerful tool designed to enhance innovation and business performance.” Delivery of the workshop is only allowed after an intensive course at Lego in Denmark. This was an enlightening and fun two days, delivered adeptly by David Gauntlett in his own inimitable and engaging way.