Panic mode

I’ve been stuck in a panic lately, unable to see a way out.

I received some helpful advice from some of the Applied Imagination alumni, which gave me some ideas on how to move forward.

Based on a one-on-one discussion with one of the tutors/guest lecturers, I have been looking more closely at defining the core of my project (main subject areas and sub topics) in order to be able to identify the experts and potential collaborators.

My next move is to try to find out more about what people think and feel. After talking to one of the alumni on Wednesday about my struggles and mild confusion, she suggested I ask people questions related to the objective I have in mind. Now I’m working on defining the purpose of my research more carefully and creating a survey based on this. I believe this could help me further define my objective and help me shape my intervention.

People like to be asked how they feel

Tuesday was packed with information and inspiration.

In the evening I ventured all the way to the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience to listen to a panel discussion about Urban Mind, an app that collects information about how urban environments affect people’s mental state. I decided to go the event partly because it seemed interesting in general, but also because through my research I have found that emotional wellbeing is a prominent issue in cities. Urban areas are associated with a higher risk of mental health issues (Gibbons, Mechelli, Smythe, 2018).

Urban Mind is a tool for collecting real time data on how exposure to natural features within urban spaces affects mental well-being (Bakolis et al., 2018). It does this by asking the user to record and reflect on the environment they are in and how it makes them feel for a period of two weeks. It is a cross-disciplinary project between Dr. Andrea Mechelli, Nomad Projects, and J & L Gibbons Landscape Architecture and Urban Design.

The three collaborators emphasised that emotional or mental wellbeing is not simply a question about feeling well versus feeling unwell, but rather a spectrum of nuances that are dependent on many different factors.  

The current app is the second version and is yet to be officially launched. When discussing the first version of the app Johanna Gibbons mentioned people had expressed that they liked being asked how they feel. Although this was ‘just an anecdote’, I see it as valuable information. It suggests that humans are emotional creatures and that reflecting on emotions is something people may feel is lacking in contemporary urban societies.

The panellists also talked about how the app is simply a tool that is being iterated and that some days it could just as well be a chat over a cup of tea. As Michael Smythe from Nomad Projects so beautifully expressed it: ‘A cup of tea and an app can be equally effective.’


Bakolis, I. et al. (2018) 'Urban Mind: Using Smartphone Technologies to Investigate the Impact of Nature on Mental Well-Being in Real Time', BioScience, 68(2), pp. 134–145, doi: 10.1093/biosci/bix149 

Gibbons, J., Mechelli, A., and Smythe, M. (2018) Urban Mind [Panel discussion] Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience. 5 June

The elements

Made this simple alchemy-inspired illustration to visualise the core elements of my project and how they link together.*

* Before successfully identifying the core of my research by dissecting my notes and reflections, I was unable to visualise my project in this way. It didn’t make sense because I was trying to do it with the wrong subject terms.

How do I find out what the question is?

I struggled with the first version of my question for the final project. The question I had articulated for Project 6 never felt right and I knew it was flawed. I had to dig quite deep to find the core of my research in order to get the question right.

After reflecting on feedback from my tutor, talking to one of my classmates, and collecting some of the key ideas that link all my research together I was able to redefine my question in a way that encompasses the core but is broad enough it does not try to answer itself.

How can creativity and self-reflective storytelling enhance emotional well-being?

This is obviously not the final question, but it is in the right direction.



Monday 4th

or ‘How do you evidence that you have managed to spend time paying attention in class’

If you have done extensive research, you want to show it off, right? Evidence is an important part of the research process. It helps you reach informed decisions and measure success. Evidence backs up your ‘whys’ and ‘hows’; helps you get from A to Q or S (and beyond) and shows how you got there.

Manage your time wisely and you will have plenty of evidence to show off. When you divide your timeline into segments and organise the time for each segment separately, you leave space for your evidence from the previous fragment to inform the next stage of your process.

My question is: what is the magic formula for managing time when you are dealing with uncertainty, ambiguity, and a brain as chaotic and loopy as a Heironymus Bosch painting?

First few fragments

Objects, including the things we wear, hold meaning and memories; they are linked to people and events through personal association and interpretation. 

To contribute with your own magical fragments, please click on the images below and follow the instructions. Exactly how you perform the exercises and how you record the results is up to you.

As already mentioned in a previous post, a series of performance scores from the 70s helped me shape this intervention. Before that, I knew what I was looking for but something was missing and I was struggling to identify what that was or how to move forward.

Inspired by Mieko Shiomi’s spatial poems I took the existing ideas I had for my first intervention and created a series of ‘intervention scores’ that invite people to creatively reflect on their relationship to items in their wardrobe; their personal connections between objects, people, time, and space.



Note to self


‘Always keep the goal in mind, but not as a destination. Keep it as a guide. You do not need to move toward it. In fact you may need to pull away entirely and move in another direction, but the objective will remain with you.’ (Hirst, L., 2013, p. 46)


Hirst, L. (2013) 'Groundwork', in Somerson, R and Hermano, M (ed.) The Art of Critical Making: Rhode Island School of Design on Creative Practice. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc., pp. 32-51