Thursday, 17 April 2008

Advancing the use of visual methods in research on children's cultural worlds

Attended this QUALITI seminar at Cardiff University last week. - papers will be posted soon.
Very good presentations from a range of researchers discussing the processes, outcomes and issues arising from using photography and video to research children's cultures.
Most of the projects engaged the children and young people in using the technologies themselves to gather data/make work which illustrated and/or reflected on aspects of their lives and/or identities.
Coming from a particapatory arts background I found myself considering the projects in terms of the participants experience - what the children and young people got out of being involved, how much control they had over the processes, at what level?
How much ownership they had of the outcome?
Issues of 'informed consent' to show the visual outcomes arise in research as they arise in arts projects. One of the presentations successfully discussed photos without actually showing them.
The seminar was great for helping me to unravel and clarify possibilities with the residency here.
First of all i think it's useful to be really clear about how visual methods interact with the different stages in the research process. I understand these as:
formulation of research questions
design of process
data gathering
data analysing and processing
formulation of findings and answers to research questions
knowledge dissemination and transfer
In considering this 'visual methods' have to be unpacked too. I think we could have a useful discussion exploring differences between visual methods as tools and visual methods as processes.
The second observation (related to the last point) is the use of off- the-shelf technologies of photography and video as visual methods. In contemporary art practice, a common strategy is to use ( and evolve) technologies and materials which are most appropriate to the endeavour, rather than start with the technology.
Applying the same strategy to visual methods in research practice could take us into interesting territory!
The residency creates a space for us to explore some of these possibilites together.

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