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Clean and Colourful Research


Slides from Jackie Calderwood's session 'Clean and Colourful Research: Transdisciplinary Research, Arts Practice and Clean Language' at the International Clean Language Conference, University of …

Slides from Jackie Calderwood's session 'Clean and Colourful Research: Transdisciplinary Research, Arts Practice and Clean Language' at the International Clean Language Conference, University of London Union, 20th May 2012.

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  • Hello! I’m Jackie Calderwood, I’m delighted to be here, and to start this second day of exciting presentations. I’m going to talk to you about some of the things I’ve been doing in my PhD research as an artist, and in particular in the past 21 months since first beginning to discover the wonders of ‘Clean’. My research comes from a background in community arts facilitation, and work with lots of different mediums including sculpture, video and mobile technologies. As my focus is on process and experience, I’d like to start with an activity, and come back to talking about the work that it’s derived from after that.   So the session will be:
  • 2 min’s set-up, that’s now!30-35 minutes activity - @ a fairly brisk pace which should give time for15 minutes on the research, Use of ‘Clean’ and what I’ve found to date;some time for discussion – and feedback forms before the next stretch break!
  • In the activity we will focus on the senses and on everyday movement.So this is an invitation to enjoy, and to notice what you notice, and how that may or may not change within the various scenarios that I’ll talk you through. You’ll be working on your own, and you’ll need one of these (grid sheet), a pen, and some colours - there are baskets around the room. You may like to sketch or make notes as you go, and part-way through the exercise I’ll ask you to get some colours if you haven’t already, and to use those with the grid. If you want to use the grid before that point - that’s up to you!So please be aware of aware of other people’s space as they’re working around you, and be a little bit flexible to the environment that we’re in.  With this activity, you have the opportunity to choose some ‘thing’ that interests you - so something that you’d like to develop and get to know more of. If you have that already, you may want to jot it on your paper, and if you don’t have something yet, don’t worry, you can use the first space to find something! I’ll ask you more about your ‘thing’ later on during the activity.---------- ACTIVITY -----------Thankyou. I hope you found that useful.So we’ve been exploring the senses and movement by distance, time and intuition.
  • And that’s also what people have been invited to explore in my public arts project Hunter Gatherer, last summer.
  • This is a map of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, showing the 5 locations of the Hunter Gatherer GeoCaches. Geocacheing, for anyone not familiar with it, is great fun! - it’s a gps-enabled treasure hunt, with around 5 million ‘seekers’ worldwide. Geocachers register with a central website to get the gps location and clues of a cache. Most caches consist of a box with a book in to sign to say you’ve been there, as well as logging your successful find on the website. Some people leave small toys as a visitor’s exchange in the box. The caches are often hidden in unusual, attractive or historically interesting places.
  • Hunter Gatherer was one of a series of GeoArtCaches commissioned by Chrysalis Arts, to see how artists might use geocaching to appeal to visitors to the Yorkshire Dales. My research interests are in digital media, co-creative participation and mobile technology, so this project created a model for geocachers to contribute images and words that would become part of a digital media ‘treasure’.
  • The ‘story’ I devised to encourage people to take part is that there is a magical creature of the Yorkshire Dales, who emerged from hibernation here at Ingleton Quarry,
  • whose voice is the sound of ringing rocks and bubbling brooks, and who moves between the cache sites following solar and lunar cycles.  
  • Inside each cache is a sound button that plays a short message from the creature, inviting you to send your response of what you notice in this place. Each cache site focuses on one of the senses of: imagination, smell, sight, sound and feeling.
  • People are invited to make a colour grid, just as you have, expressing what they notice, and then to complete 3 short questions, inspired by Clean Language : Things I (sense) [see, hear, smell or feel] here are… I notice… The colours in this grid are like…
  • The responses from the cache logbooks and iphone app form a call and response with the magical creature who communicates back via short films on the Hunter Gatherer website. 
  • The Hunter Gatherer iphone app is a tool for noticing what you notice, in the moment, at a specific location. As you may have found, it’s not so much about the colours themselves, rather what they mean to you, the relationships between them, and,
  • with series of colour grids such as this trail across Canada, the patterns that occur across time and space, pointing through to something more. Where are you going when you go there? - I love that specialized question -
  • -and used it as the title of an installation exploring moments of noticing in the context of my residency with the University of Alberta’s research in culture project, On The Commons at the Banff Centre, Canada, last year. Musing on mountain horizons, traced with thread and pins, connecting to rocks from this landscape where the ocean floor has risen up through the folds of time, counterpoised with these fleeting moments and reflections of noticing, noticed.  
  • The grids have evolved through a series of workshops
  • and experimental walks, tracing interjections and investigating
  • the affect of scales of strange and varied kinds.
  • At Sideshow, the British Art Show ‘fringe’, in Nottingham, participants made colour grids about their experience of this hidden place in the city centre, and then paired up to have “Clean conversations” … and is there anything else about… and that’s like what?  So where could this colour grid tool come from? and what happens just before? To find out, we need to visit
  • Soundlines, a project with schools and communities in North Somerset.  
  • Through a series of arts workshops over 6 months, young people workshopped responses to the history, myths and their own perceptions of Sand Point. Some 75 improvised music tracks, and 40 ‘bubbling’ animations were mapped to the hilltop.
  • The audio is triggered by gps, playing back as the students move over the land: a step here to trigger Viking sounds, a step there for echoes of a volcano erupting in the Bristol channel millennia ago, running here to play rhythms, pausing to let the track play out.
  • Each walk is recorded, creating a movement trace, unique audio composition and animated sequence resulting from that route, and pace, of walk. Students reflected on their experience live at the hilltop, a month later revisiting their walk online,
  • and as hosts at a community event in which the sounds were remapped to the school grounds.  Amongst other things, Soundlines explored the balance of
  • Considering what kind of sensory system might be able to pay attention, ‘read’ and respond to an individual in this way, prompted me to turn to noticing how we notice, and evolve this colour grid methodology.This is not the occasion to go into the research findings of SL or Hunter Gatherer, but both projects are well documented online, and you can email me if you’d like more information or copies of papers.   So to focus a little more on the core of my research, before going on to the details of using Clean…
  • A current definition of pervasive media is: ‘digital media experiences woven into the fabric of every day life, created as a consequence of their situational context at the moment of delivery.' I would add to this that the media is ‘with’ the user - and becomes particularly interesting via the potential to iterate across time and to merge roles of artist/author and audience/user.  Eudemonia is from the Ancient Greek, eu meaning good and demonia or daimon as the personal spirit guide, house god or muse. Taking an Aristotlean view of virtue as necessitating context, the definition I prefer to adopt is that of ‘human flourishing’ - a well-being ‘plus’!  So can pervasive media contribute to human flourishing - on an individual or collective level? Mobile technologies, sensors and the web can certainly saturate our lives with media and stimulate endless communication, but is there room for a quality of attention and a freedom of aesthetic experience? The research has to make steps in practice - it’s not just a theoretical exploration, although theory and critical analysis play a key part, by default, in any PhD! So we have these tensions between practice and theory, and a need to speak across disciplines in a language each may understand.  The tensions of research by practice are foremost those of maintaining a coherent approach and integrity of position - the research has to articulate and harmonise with the methodology of the practice, the one being not only symbiotic, but also congruent with the other.  Apart from the practical questions the research would try to answer, finding an approach that could cohesively deal with these layers of tensions has been a major challenge. And that is where I have found Clean - language, space, and symbolic modeling - to be of most value for myself.
  • Thanks to Wendy, the Clean Change Company, and many other wonderful people who I’ve learnt from and practiced with, I’ve spent the last year and a half testing out how I could use Clean in my research - as an arts methodology, an interview tool, for self-modelling and personal development, and above all as a point of reference in this search for the sounding board of a unifying approach. So what kind of arts methodology?
  • Another project conceived soon after Soundlines was with the Alzheimer’s Society, as a woodland walk in which trees would become placeholders for the voices of people living with a diagnosis of dementia. The initial motivation came from a comment by a gentleman during a video interview I was filming for the Society. When asked if there was anything else he would like to say, he interrupted his companion’s reply with ‘hang on a minute, it’s not often anyone asks us if we have something to say!’ My idea was to combine the ‘anything else’ - stories, anecdotes, words of wisdom, experiences of living with disease - with my research in pervasive media, given my thesis that the embodied reception and freedom of movement facilitate a greater sense of awareness and hence perhaps of the ‘wisdom of walking in another’s moccasins’ to borrow the Lakota Sioux expression. The challenge would be to maintain integrity to the contributor’s ‘voice’ when choosing a tree to map the voice to.  This is where I thought we might trial Clean. Of course I had chosen the theme of ‘tree’ - the artist might become invisible but nonetheless has a voice! In introducing the project to prospective participants, Julia Burton of the Alzheimer’s Society adapted my suggestion from the tree as metaphor to elicit characteristics of the ‘story’ to ‘if you were a tree what kind of tree would you be?’ And this is where Wendy kindly joined us for a three-layered interview process: me asking for that ‘anything else’, Wendy developing the tree metaphor, and Julia asking about the disease.  From the ten interviews we learnt a lot, people responded very differently, and really this just scratches the surface of what I envisage as immense potential for a transdisciplinary arts and health research intervention.
  • Interviews and dialogue have featured extensively - from modeling papers and seeking to find a form of written expression that can carry the experience of an arts project in the similar way that video can craftily convey experience of an event. - to a series of research interviews with practitioners from diverse fields, invited to consider a metaphor for their research practice. I wanted the interviews to be like inviting the respondent into a rubber dinghy, steering them round an Escher River (it flows in either direction in a continuous loop) pointing out the mountains of ‘pervasive media’, ‘holistic user experience’ ‘ landscape’ and so forth as we go. What I then found was that it was the space between the mountains that were more interesting - space, iteration, community and presence. So these became the four ‘interjections’ added during the otherwise Clean (from squeaky to-ishish ) interviews. What evolved was a method of asking at the start how the respondent would like these words introduced - as a feather floating in a letter being handed to them, a marble rolled into the landscape.. or anything else?  Again, a wide range of responses to the use of Clean, and many facets of interest for analysis - but most relevant in what I was feeling for, rich material on the creative processes of interaction with others, from practitioners of visual arts, arts management, creative technologies, education, tai chi, homeopathy, transdisciplinary research and literature.  I’m still writing up this research, but in the meantime my technique has evolved to combine an open active interview format with colour grid elicitation and symbolic modeling. And I’m delighted to have just completed the first interview for publication - in the International Journal of Cinema - with a fellow pervasive media practitioner.  I have found Clean Language as a complement to the colour grids to be extremely effective in a conversational context, drawing out deep personal insights in a non-threatening and unassuming manner. Participants frequently comment on their surprise at new realizations and personal significance in just a short 2 minute conversation.  The questions for the Hunter Gatherer app were devised and tested during module 3 & 4 training with the Clean Change Company. And indeed the whole project is interwoven with my training in Clean. After accepting the commission and making initial site visits, I had several components I wanted to include, with a finite context (time and resources!) and an ambitious research agenda. So, in skype practices, we tried out modeling how those components might fit together, finding a sequence that connected them and ultimately informed the locations and interrelationships of the five cache sites. The magical creature gets to the heart of everything - it’s the ‘mystery’ of digital media creation, it’s the collective imagination at work, it’s the connection with the planetary cycles of earth, the senses, an invitation to listen with perhaps something like the exquisite listening that is attributed to Clean? It’s a metaphor for many things, maybe even eudemonia? But it has to be explained as research - it’s not enough to chase magical creatures to play with, in this situation! Introducing Clean Language to my supervisors, a year into the PhD, was the first challenge. It’s been interesting to notice the shifts in language and attitude since that time. I’ve conducted Clean research interviews with both of my supervisors. One struggled to see the practical application of Clean Language. The otherquestioned and began to enjoy the extent to which his metaphor for a successful practice-based PhD, - an amoeba on the ocean floor - could adapt to the questions asked, and to voice for himself the potential to communicate across disciplines.  I felt that I learnt more much in that hour than I had in piecing things together over previous months. I then invited him to interview me - using the Clean Language Cards - about the structure of my thesis, which I had developed from a series of modeling exercises. This was extremely challenging - for us both! And a fantastic learning device all round.  He is now most supportive of my use of Clean, understands the synergies with the practice, and is better able to advise on the interview analysis.  I’ve gone on to do workshops with the library writing group and the transdisciplinary research group - proposing the use of metaphor to envisage a flourishing TD environment - promising, but early days yet! Other interviewees, in particular those with a visual arts background, with no prior experience of Clean, have found the process illuminating, one of whom commented:‘I think it’s really useful to talk in metaphors, and to consider your practice in that way with someone else. I thought there was quite a clear description that you brought out of the conversation of the developmental process.’Interviewing the Royal Literary Fellow at De Montfort University proved extremely interesting. Author Susan Price talks about her relationship with her own ‘daimon’ or muse, and has given me helpful advice on editing other interview transcripts (made by instant messaging). She commented that the quality of writing notably ‘goes up several gears’ once the respondent is using their metaphor, language becomes focused and rich. So there is use in practice, use in written and oral interviews, and also there is the theoretical modeling of a pervasive media for eudemonia. This is where the kind of exercise you’ve just experienced comes into play. James and Penny talk about the trialogue of the client, facilitator, and the client’s metaphor landscape.  There are parallels in landscape studies, participatory arts and in interactive media. Add to this the notion of the landscape becoming psychoactive - with pervasive media we talk about the ‘magic moments’ when the media experience and the outer world fuse -one might for example hear the sound of a steam train whilst walking down a disused railway track, or birds singing inside and outside the headphones simultaneously. And when the ‘client, user, participant, collaborator’ - whoever we want to call them - creates their own media … well, being in the moment - could be quite a thing to notice!  
  • We have a few minutes left, I hope, for any questions, and to open up the discussion…..


  • 1. Clean and Colourful Research:Transdisciplinary Research, Arts Practiceand Clean LanguageJackie CalderwoodPractice-based Doctoral ResearcherINSTITUTE OF CREATIVE TECHNOLOGIESDE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY, UKjackie.calderwood@btopenworld.comwww.jackiecalderwood.com 20th May 2012 International Clean Conference
  • 2. Clean and Colourful Research:Transdisciplinary Research, Arts Practiceand Clean LanguageSession Outline: 2 min Introduction 30-35 min Activity 15 min Research Presentation 5-10 min Questions & Discussion 20th May 2012 International Clean Conference
  • 3. www.gatherer3.com
  • 4. Experimental Walks Composition: colour grids, point location and time of ‘noticing’, with gps trace Experimental walk: Jackie Calderwood, Whitesheet Hill, Salisbury Plain September 2010www.walksontheweb.blogspot.com www.walksontheweb.blogspot.com
  • 5. www.stratacollective.blogspot.com
  • 6. Soundlines, Sand Point
  • 7. “Pervasive Media for Eudemonia:Transdisciplinary Research by Practice”
  • 8. Apple Tree, Cherry Tree Recording Interviews for Living Voices, March 2011
  • 9. Any Questions? Jackie Calderwood Practice-based Doctoral Researcher INSTITUTE OF CREATIVE TECHNOLOGIES DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY, UK jackie.calderwood@btopenworld.com www.jackiecalderwood.com