Flowing with… @RTD 2017

, , , , , , , , , March 29th, 2017

This March Rocio and I had another second chance to hold our Stick Chart workshop (more info) and are very grateful for the efforts of our engaged participants! Please find some pictures of the artifacts created further below.

Our co-exploration of making as a means to learn about and represent our environment has gained many insights of which I’d like to share our very brief description of the outcomes:

After an introduction to the Polynesian stick-charts and related techniques we gave participants the task of exploring the things and flows that compose the National Museum of Scotland. We asked them to observe, listen, touch, smell and taste the environment, log their experiences and thoughts on paper, and prototype on site with some materials. Participants were then given time to work on their artefacts and present their outcomes to the group.

The stick-chart technique was used as a didactic device, and each artefact became a new expression of this technique while also reflecting the experiences, background, and interests of each participant. Discussing the importance of the maps for the Polynesian communities motivated participants to embark on their own explorations of the myriad of patterns available in the site, as well as to engage in the process of making an artefact that represented those explorations.

Using a restricted palette of materials (e.g. wool, foam-board, pins, cardboard, plasticine) to build the artefacts lowered the threshold for engagement and reduced friction during the making process. However, the expressive richness remained in the tensions between materials and makers, and within the materials themselves.

The capacity of the materials to convey the experience of being on the site was often discovered in the iterative process of playfully adding, removing, or replacing parts; the artefact and the representation of the observations (the model) co-created each other.

To summarize, we found that the stick-chart method proved to be a motivating framework to engage participants in discussions relating to mapping, and that by making material sketches of their observations they could refine their observations (sensing the environment) and express them in a nonverbal way. Furthermore, the tangibility and presence of the hand-made artefacts facilitated the communication of their observations and contributed to a shared understanding.

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