Fragments

Yesterday I decided to pull out some of the linking ideas from the notes I have made during my research from the Dream/Nightmare project until now.

These are fragments that underpin all the research I have done so far. I wanted to start mapping them in order to get a clearer understanding of where the core of my project lies. Which in turn should help me define my question.

Some of the key words linking these fragments together are (human) connection, storytelling, creativity, identity. There is something affective in each of these fragments so it is no surprise that the mentioned key words are also all linked to emotions.

Based on this I can conclude that emotional wellbeing is definitely part of the core of my project. Storytelling, identity, and connection are also present in my first intervention. And after some reflection, I am wondering whether storytelling and creativity also form part of the core of my question…

 

References

Banim, M. and Guy, A. (2001) 'Discontinued selves: why do women keep clothes they no longer wear?', in A. Guy, E. Green and M. Banim, (ed.) Through the wardrobe: women's relationships with their clothes. New York: Berg, pp. 203-219

Chapman, J. (2014) 'Designing Meaningful and Lasting User Experiences', in Moran, A, and O'Brien, S., (ed.) Love Objects: emotion, design and material culture. London: Bloomsbury Academic, p. 137 

Empire of Light (2016) The OA, Series 1, episode 7. Netflix, December 16. Available at: www.netflix.com (Accessed: 15 May 2018) 

Greenwood, S. (2009) The anthropology of magic. Oxford: Berg

Koening, J. (2016) Beautiful New Words To Describe Obscure Emotions. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/john_koenig_beautiful_new_words_to_describe_obscure_emotions (Accessed: 5 April 2018)

Marina Abramovic in Brazil: the space in between (2016) Directed by Marco Del Fiol [Film]. Brazil: ELO Compan

Monks, A. (November 2015) How loss helped one artist find beauty in imperfection. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/alyssa_monks_how_loss_helped_one_artist_find_beauty_in_imperfection#t-774945 (Accessed 4 April 2018)

Richards, M. (2010) Marina Abramovic. New York: Routledge

 

The meaning of things

Magical fragments are all around us. Things that connect us emotionally to our surrounding world. It can be an object, a smell,  a space, or a certain combination of different things. The magic comes from within us and is constructed from past experiences and personal associations; we give these fragments meaning.

I am interested in the emotional connections people form between other people, objects, and experienced moments; the way humans connect with the surrounding world through ‘magical thinking’. And I want to explore how creating more meaningful connections through creativity and storytelling can help externalise and deal with complex emotions.

Objects are an important part of the way we connect with emotions, people, and experiences. They provide us with something tangible to transfer parts of our lived experiences to. We give objects and spaces meaning as part of making sense of the world. Objects, material, or space do not hold meaning within and by themselves; it is our [associations] and interpretations that produces the meaning (Chapman, 2014).

Finding meaning and connections appears to be especially important during emotionally distressing times. As this quote from the TV series OA suggests: ‘…it was all about how cultures that have survived more loss, they have more totems. Objects carry meaning in difficult times (Empire of Light, 2016).’ Anthropologist Susan Greenwood (2009, p. 72) similarly describes how the creative process of making a spiritual rattle drew her into a deeper emotional connection with her beloved horse she was forced to have put down. In grief rituals this object could be referred to as a ‘linking object’. A ‘linking object’ helps continue the link with the lost loved one by providing a focal point where the self-representation of the bereaved merges with the loved one (Sas and Coman, 2016).

Objects create links in our minds; they act as tangible focal points for our abstract inner worlds of emotions and memories. We are connected to the past, the present, people, and our own identities through objects.

So how much attention is paid to these connections in fast-paced urban societies? Are objects valued for their evocative qualities and how can paying more attention to this impact contemporary urban societies?  Do items worn close to the body, such as clothing, affect us differently than other objects? How can actively forming more meaningful connections through creativity and storytelling help externalise and deal with emotions?

 

References

Chapman, J. (2014) 'Designing Meaningful and Lasting User Experiences', in Moran, A, and O'Brien, S., (ed.) Love Objects: emotion, design and material culture. London: Bloomsbury Academic, p. 137

Empire of Light (2016) The OA, Series 1, episode 7. Netflix, December 16. Available at: www.netflix.com (Accessed: 15 May 2018)

Greenwood, S. (2009) The Anthropology of Magic. Oxford: Berg

Sas, C. and Coman, A. (2016) 'Designing Personal Grief Rituals: an analysis of symbolic objects and actions', Death Studies, 40:9, pp. 558-569. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2016.1188868

Time as a material and spatial poems

Yesterday I attended the ‘Women in Conceptual Art’ symposium at Chelsea College of Arts.

Some of the talks were very inspiring and I found the day useful for the development of my current project. Artist A. K. Dolven talked about the body and ‘the passing of time’ as a material. Irene Revell, a curator, discussed some interesting examples of performance scores by female artists from the 60s and 70s. And artist Lina Hermsdorf turned her presentation into a performance piece that played with time and space.

Afterwards I had a look at the exhibition that the whole symposium was built around, and while reading the different performance scores by Mieko Shiomi I had an idea on how to shape my first intervention. Something clicked when I was looking at ‘Spatial Poem Nr. 3’; the set of instructions had a very similar structure to the creative ritual I put together as an idea for my early intervention.

 

             

 

For an early intervention idea I wrote instructions for a creative ritual for other people to do. However, I felt that I was unable to capture all the aspects of my project theme within it without making it all too complicated. It seemed as if I had an intervention that did not quite make sense, or risked ending up with a whole handful of interventions. Until yesterday at approximately 6.20PM I felt lost. And then, with a glass of red wine in my hand, I stood and looked at ‘Spatial Poem Nr. 3’ and thought: hang on, what if..?

…I base my intervention on the concept of a performance score and compile a series of exercises that can explore my project theme in different ways. So now my plan is to gather a series of instructions that invites people to perform the tasks and then share their experience either by email, with a hashtag, or even both. This would allow me to explore different aspects and angles of how people form emotional connections between objects, past events, and other people.

 

Why ‘magical fragments’?

This is the learning log for my MA Applied Imagination research project… Welcome to the chaos!

It all started with the ‘Box of Uncertainties’; a project where we were asked to identify things we feel uncertain about. My personal observations and research led me to empathy (and a lack thereof in contemporary urban societies?) and the way people value each other, moments, and objects. Do we still know how to live in the moment? Did we ever know how to live in the moment? Are we becoming increasingly distracted?

The foundation for my final project has been partly shaped by these uncertainties as well as elements from a project titled ‘Dream and Nightmare’, which was about personal interests, passions, and fears. Although my ‘dream’ and ‘nightmare’ were more concrete (than the uncertainties) and described projects I would love to do/hate to do, the theme underpinning both was again human connection.

The name Magical Fragments reflects and refers both to the stories and emotional connections we create between things in our everyday lives, and the fact that my project has grown out of fragments from different sources that link together through a common narrative.

You know that moment when you hear a song for the first time and you feel like it was written for you; like the singer knows exactly how you feel? Those times when you are reminded of a moment in the past and realise it was triggered by the tiniest detail? Holding on to an object, or destroying it, because it reminds you of someone? These are all magical fragments; emotional connections created through our individual experience and associations with moments and people. Fragments that influence our individual narratives.