Here is a list of possible project ideas (some more developed than others):
– Old People selfies
Medium: Photography (smart phone)
Field of enquiry: old people and their role in society / engaging with new technology / generations / public sphere
When I see old people on the streets two things come to my mind. First – they are always (well, mostly) alone. Second – I wonder what they think.
I’m interested in tribes and native societies/communities. One thing that always fascinated me were the elderly. They are the one’s holding wisdom, they are the one’s who have experienced a lot and want to share these experiences with the others. The community relies on them, they keep everyone grounded and have a strong set of morals. They educate the young and advice the adults. They are being treated with respect and are part of the society just as everyone else is.
So how much are the elderly part of OUR society? How much do we incorparate them into our hectic lives? Why are retirement homes full, time short and caring not enough?
First I thought about making a connection with a retirement home in Bristol, volunteer, go to a boardgame night and speak to the people there.
But then I thought about taking the project to the streets. To approach old people directly on the street and talk with them about new technologies and what they think about it.
Nowadays our feeling of existing depends so much on the fact of being seen. The more you put yourself out there, the more you feel alive (or are you?).
Obviously the majority of old people is not participating in this, they are one of the last generations that only knew black and white television and aren’t forming a big part of our networked society. Of course there are old people who know how to work the internet but are they actively engaging?
It would be fun and interesting to let them make a selfie and explain them how to take a photo of themselves on the phone (if they haven’t used a smartphone before). It’s about letting them do something that we all do on a daily basis but might be so remote to people who haven’t grown up with this technology. I would like to accompany the photo with a quote by the person to give it a personal touch. It is also about not objectifying the person by taking a photo of them, but rather have them do it themselves.
The idea touches on various themes I have already (partly) explored the last two years at Uni:
– Representation and self-representation through new technologies / social networks
– The concept of the “other” – objectification – society and identity
– Groups in society that are less / falsely represented in mainstream media
– Network society and how not all members of the “public sphere” are included in the modern dialogue
I think it would be possible to realise the idea in the short time frame we are given, I have worked as a fundraiser on the streets before so approaching people is not an issue for me.
I would be interested to hear what old people think about new technologies, how these technologies are or aren’t part of their lives, what they think about our constant “collecting” of moments on our phones and what possible view of the future they have.
– Psychiatric Clinics – an outside view into a world of outsiders
Medium: Photography (wide-angle lens on DSLR camera)
Field of enquiry: outsiders / architecture / development / mental health care / capitalization vs. social services
This project would be about psychiatric clinics in and around Bristol, some of which are abandoned or re-purposed.
I’d like to explore were they are/were, how they look like, how the building transformed or what was built on the land where it once stood.
There are a few mental health hospitals that closed down during the 80’s/90’s, either being completely demolished or turned into luxurious flats like Downer House, a Grade II listed building, part of the Stoke Park Hospital:
Or Barrow Hospital in Somerset, which fell into decay and was mainly demolished yet granted permission in 2008 to be turned into flats and office spaces:
Glenside Hospital (former Beaufort Hospital, a Lunatic Asylum) is still in use as mental health unit:
An interesting website: http://www.glensidemuseum.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/psychiatry_4.htm
This is an interesting article I read about someone who worked in mental health care at Southmead Hospital and witnessed the changes that happened:
I’d still have to research a lot more and find locations, these are just a few first examples.
The main purpose of the project would be to look into how mental health care has developed over the years and mainly what effect the cuts have had on the patients, without picturing the actual patients but telling the story through the buildings and their development as most of them have been “capitalised” and symbolise in a way how funding is poor when it comes to social services and buildings are being re-purposed into luxury flats or office space, offering space for the “money making” people but not the ones in need of care.
Need to check out:
Foucault’s “Madness and Civilization”
Fredrik Jameson “Postmodernism or cultural logic”
Mark Fisher “Capitalism Realism”,
– Multilingual People – a behavioral study
Medium: Audio / Video / Photography
Field of enquiry: multi-linguistics / languages / behavior / perception / self-expression
I grew up in Germany to a Ukrainian mother, learned English and Spanish in school and practiced these by working and traveling in foreign countries hence why I speak four languages (quite) fluently, making me a multi-lingual. But what does that mean for me personally?
Surely, I can communicate with people from different countries and backgrounds, I can understand and express myself on a multicultural level rather than being bound to just one language. But it also means that my brain is sometimes exhausted and that I sometimes feel I can’t express myself fully and in the way I want to (unless I speak my mother tongue German, and not even then, as I haven’t lived there the last 5 years and even my German has become rusty!).
Various people told me I seem like a different person when I speak German and they’ve only known me speaking English with them. They say my voice is lower and my expressions change, the language to them sounds harsh and that makes me seem less “cute” (whatever that means). They also laugh and find it generally amusing.
Why is that? I for example get the opposite reaction when I’m speaking Russian with my relatives, they say I sound cute and have a very soft accent, to them I make the opposite impression. I also noticed this with my boyfriend who speaks various languages. When he speaks Italian, his mother tongue, he seems very confident, until he starts speaking German and all of a sudden he seems all too cute to me (not harsh at all!).
The idea would be to find people who speak multiple languages quite fluently (enough to express themselves in a dialogue not just the basic “how much does it cost?” etc.), record their voice, film them and also get a still photograph and somehow assemble it into a interactive puzzle where one can click on a person and hear a voice or just see them move without audio.. somehow! Ha, it’s still not quite developed but I’d like to play around with this idea. I think it would be interesting to see the different expressions and hear the different languages and then try to find the person they belong to.
I need to think about what the actual outcome is and how it would work, do I make them read something out loud or make them react to a video I show them.. I don’t know yet. I just know I’m interested in the subject and would like to research this a bit more.
Work in progress!
Articles I found interesting:
– Bristol Emotion/Memory Map
Field of enquiry: psychogeography / memory / emotions / maps, mapping / making sense of a city
An idea I had in second year for our Media Culture 2 module, here’s a copy of my blog entry:
Another map idea was an emotional/memory map. This would be an online project, where people can add their memories to certain places within Bristol, which would then be shown as dots on a blank background. So, first the user would see a normal map of Bristol, where the content can be added and pinned onto the location (like in customized google maps). This information would then be transformed into a dotted map, almost like a painting (like the Aborigines have in Australia, re-creating their journeys and telling stories through their paintings), not showing the actual place but only indicating roughly where it is and what happened there (by hovering over a dot and reading the memory). It is up to us to figure out which place it is that the memories are linked to.
*Edit: To get this working I first need some web-knowledge, to figure out the best way on how to transform the information into a nicely dotted map and most importantly I’d need user participation. Hence why, time and promotion would play a crucial role and I feel I can use the idea in third year intensive production, as I believe it has some potential to turn out very nicely.
Additional: This would be still too time-consuming as a first project idea, I might come back to it later for second term. Also because I am less confident with web media-based ideas than with photography/video based ones, hence why I’d rather use these for my first project.
Need to check out:
Christian Nold’s emotional maps of cities
– Attics and why it’s hard to let go of things
Medium: Photography and Web
Field of enquiry: Memory / Attachment / Hidden Spaces / …