Just back from attending the two day Temporal-Design workshop held at Edinburgh University. I presented on the second day during the Pecha-Kucha session, giving an overview of how I consider time in my designs. The prototype “Story Stethoscope” (I’m still working on a final name) was discussed including how it presents many temporal-design challenges including the consideration of the many timeframes around stories and objects including: the life of the object, the person’s history, the time of the story told and the narrative arc over many stories. Download the slides for my talk here.
The workshop consisted of a number of longer format talks from Kevin Birth, Sarah Sharma, Siân Lindley, Sus Lundgren and Bronac Ferran, and ten Pecha-Kucha presentations. The first day kicked off with a ‘walkshop’ around Edinburgh centre with a history of time-keeping from Kevin. Towards the end of the workshop discussion groups were formed to discuss a number of points ranging from ephemerality and fluidity, through to time and the environment. I found myself discussing the ‘vocabulary of temporal-design’ in a group led by Jen Southern. The group created a rough draft of a possible ten week lecture series on temporal-design allowing the framing of the vocabulary.
The chance to work closely with artist and art workshop leader, Deborah Feiler, from Alive! Activities was a great opportunity to learn more about the potential of creative processes to elicit memories and personal stories from residents in a care home setting.
Starting with a series of three workshop sessions, Deborah and I were helpfully given a research question to frame our creative explorations with the residents: Can older people make objects which are meaningful to them? Some other questions we also hoped to consider included: Does a story have to be told with words? Can art express a memory? Can a collection of objects work together to express a memory? How can the creative process contribute to a better understanding of the individual, in a care home setting?
A select group of participants, with expertise in working with young and older people and including members of the Tangible Memories team (Ki Cater, Pete Bennett and Jennie Reed from Alive!) came together to explore and imagine a future city designed with multiple generations in mind. The themes are hugely relevant to the project as we have become increasingly concerned with the growing spatial and relational divides between the very old and the young, the lack of opportunity that older people have to enjoy being outside and the need to rethink the way that ‘care’ is viewed and organised in relation to our ageing demographic. As Liz Lloyd suggested at our steering group meeting back in February it is helpful to think about care as something that all of us will require at different times in our lives.
The aims of the day were:
To introduce interesting people to each other
To explore what happens when we imagine future cities with multiple generations in mind
To explore the future city through the eyes of different generations
To identify creative opportunities for future collaborations – networks, projects, services
(Some opening thoughts from a presentation I recently gave with Helen in the GSoE that I am developing into a larger presentation for the Brunelcare Forum on 21 May):
In everyday language, we speak about objects and stories in very similar ways. Stories possess weight, colour, form, context, history/provenance, value and meaning, just as objects do. We can talk about “the object of a story” just as easily as we can discuss “the story of an object.” In both cases, we are referring to “the point,” or “the essential meaning or core” of the narrative or artefact concerned. Somewhat analogous to the universal variables of energy and mass, stories and objects are at least metaphorically interchangeable as signifiers. On the one hand, sometimes we acquire an object and build stories around it: the cherished gift, the inherited heirloom, the chance-discovered treasure. On the other, we can also create, seek out or find ourselves immersed in stories and build collections around them: the holiday photos, the handmade craft, the kitchy souvenir. Value may be attributed at any point, but it too is always open to change as our experiences, memories and ongoing interpretation and curation of our lives change over time. Continue reading →
At a recent conference, I was intrigued to hear about a form entitled This Is Me, which aims to ‘help health and social care professionals build a better understanding of who the person really is’, when a person is suffering from dementia and about to enter a new care home. I decided to download a copy from the Alzheimer’s Society’s website, and try responding to it myself:
It was very difficult to summarise my identity and life history in four lines or less and I am only 38. I can only imagine how much more challenging and upsetting this task becomes when you are over 70, 80 or 90 years old, and are perhaps struggling to recall some of the more significant moments or events. Personally, even for me, it was a strangely emotive experience to try and reduce myself to a sentence or two, or a list of points at best. I felt frustrated and humiliated that a single piece of paper should represent the complexity of any human being, and be handed over to care staff with the title of the form declaring ‘This Is Me’. This is not me – I am not a printed sheet of A4. I was also at a loss to know how I should respond (despite the lengthy Guidance Notes provided) to such open-ended statements like ‘I would like you to know…’ (4 lines) and worried about providing the ‘correct’ information under each section. The idea of completing this form, even with a trusted friend or family member to assist, must be very distressing for new residents on the move at a confusing and challenging stage of life.
A few of the Tangible Memories team attended the “Art, Death & Candy” event at the Arnos Vale cemetery yesterday evening. A discussion was led by artist Julia Vogl and Dr Jon Troyer about the possibilities of future memorials and their role within society. During the process gumballs were used to cast a vote on the factors the participants found to be most important. Continue reading →
This morning I attended a SPHERE talk by Bharat Bedi about the Smarter Care in Bolzano project. The talk addresses the question of “how can smart computing help people stay in their own homes for longer?” with details of a case study made in the city of Bolzano where there is a rapidly ageing population.
We played around with using the Oculus Rift today as a means for creating a virtual space for storytelling. Our first two testers M & B both enjoyed the experience. We firstly tried out stepping into a 3D snapshot of the Bristol Museum Foyer, and then took a trip up Cabot Tower. M had a look around a virtual Tuscan Villa whilst B opted for a whistle-stop tour of the Solar System. The next step is to customise the virtual scenes and introduce the possibility of handling objects relevant to the scene during the experience. An interesting finding was that binaural audio recordings played at the same time proved to be a distraction from the visual material.
We had never made a print on demand book before, so wanted to test it out before we start working with people in the care homes to create their own reminiscence books.
Barney and I are brother and sister, but we also work regularly with other members of our family, including our parents, Pip and Ali Heywood. We developed a show with our Dad Pip last year, called The Eye of the Hare, which is an autobiographical piece about aspects of his life. It’s a one-man show with him on stage reading extracts and stories from a book he has been writing combined with film and audio clips.
As we have all the material and multimedia for The Eye of the Hare already, we decided to use that to create our initial prototype book. So, the three of us got together with the script and media from the show and tried to figure out how to turn it into an interactive book. Continue reading →