Where the Sky Widens – the MA writing

It’s taken a while to get there, but I have now submitted for the MA course of which Where the Sky Widens was a part.

Several people have been asking if they can read the writing that accompanies the practical work, so here it is: my MA ‘evaluative document’ (like a dissertation, but different).

figure 7

Where the Sky Widens: An exploration of slow making and spatially-aware prototypes as methods for considering emotional connections to distant places

The practical component of this research project centred on the design and use of paper ‘pods’ supplemented with computational processing and electronics to make them react with movement and light to being pointed in a particular direction.

I ran workshops with different groups of people and we used the time it took
participants to make the pods to talk about the distant places to which we have strong emotional connections. We worked and talked at the pace of folded tabs and PVA glue—4 or 5 hours—giving us time to share stories; consider our relationships to our pasts, to people, and to places; and also to question the implications of crafting our own interfaces for digital technologies.

After having selected a location that was of significance to them, participants then had time to walk with the pod they had made, now programmed to signal when person and pod were facing towards that place.

The workshops were held with members of the public at Birmingham Open Media; Visual Sociology staff and students at Goldsmiths, University of London; and with staff and researchers connected to the Centre for Mobilities Research and Lancaster Institutite for the Contemporary Arts at Lancaster University. Two further
workshops had been planned, but were not realised.

Rather than describing the pods and workshops in detail, the following chapters are intended to complement the practical work through exploration of my practice, indicating relevant contextual frameworks and evaluation of the research project as a whole.


So, link to the .pdf file below. I’ve had to jibble it a bit so it makes sense away from the other things that were part of the MA submission: if it doesn’t quite make sense, or if I’ve messed up on figure numbers or anything like that then please let me know and I’ll fix it.

As ever with these things I see them as the start of a conversation, so I’m also happy to hear back about suggestions for where to go with this next.

Over to you:

Download: Where the Sky Widens v2.2 (.pdf)

There are some important “thank you”s I’d like to make too:

Thanks to Jen Southern, Kat Jungnickel and Anne Galloway for an intense month in 2014 which helped me to realise how things might slot together; gave me new ways of seeing my work and the beginnings of a vocabulary to express that; and also their support and challenges as I worked through everything after that.

Thanks also to Helen Kara for fielding so many research-related questions that, by various routes, always seemed to end up at her door.

To the ladies in the lasercutter suite: you’re awesome. Keep up the amazing work.
To my lovely proofreaders: your perfectionists. Keep up the amazing work.

Many, many thanks to the participants who took part in the workshops and gave so generously of their time and their stories. Thanks also to Jen and Kat (again!) and Karen Newman for hosting those workshops and for dealing with all the logistics of room bookings and spreading the word.

And finally, hugs and appreciation to all those who have contributed moral support and encouragement, cardboard tubes and sandpaper through the challenging times. THANK YOU!

(I think that’s everyone, but I’ll have inevitably forgotten someone crucial, so expect that list to be added to…)