At the end of our first run of sessions …
We didn’t know how that was going to go. And isn’t that the great thing about doing something new, taking a new approach, and working alongside a group of strangers – all at the same time. A bit risky, but our nerves are strong and can take quite a lot of wracking . . . we both love to be put in a vulnerable position to be honest, so we loved every minute. Here’s a still from one of the video sketches we made.
It actually went brilliantly. We were working alongside residents of two Dundee Council care homes to co-create an audio-visual piece about what it means to belong to Dundee. The participants were so engaged and enthusiastic, they were immediately open to our idea to make a non-narrative video soundscape, energetically engaging in visual and audio theme-boarding (no story-board … no story.) Participants brought great passion and a sense of fun to the sessions and we achieved more than we had imagined would be possible in just four sessions in each home.
During the first three weekly sessions we used the tools we’d created to help everyone to share their thoughts and responses to the theme of belonging to Dundee. The sensory immediacy of images, shapes, colours, sounds and music did help to stimulate discussion and also helped to enable people to input in different ways including non-verbally. We found that having the tools helped to promote more equal access to interactions within the groups, as the focus was not solely on verbal discussion. Individuals were selecting images and shapes and non-verbally ‘discussing’ these with other participants, and thoughts on audio and visual elements were shared through facial expression, mime and laughter (lots of laughter.)
High energy. We took a deliberate clown-like, high positive energy performative approach to the sessions, dressing in colourful outfits (or costumes) and bringing an open, vulnerable and excited energy. This worked well to allow us to work alongside and inside the group – rather than as leaders or teachers. It also helped to physically position ourselves seated with the group, all working together with the materials. Our personas were really just the most colourful and high-energy ends of our selves, always keen to expose vulnerabilities, share foibles and faults, and have a good old laugh at it all. this approach helped participants to relax and engage quickly.
Follow-up session. After the initial sessions we went off for a few weeks to put together some video and audio sketches which we brought along to a final session with each group (you can find these on the site here). These were great sessions, participants were excited and happy to see their ideas transformed into the sketches and shared their responses, tweaks, new ideas and suggestions. We were also pleased to be able to observe participants watching/listening to the sketches as we screened them, obviously finding them engaging and enjoyable. We got a huge amount of input from these final feedback sessions which will inform our approach as we pull together the final piece.
What all-round fun this project is turning out to be!