In this assignment you will be attempting some primary research using photographs as a form of evidence. This technique is in itself fairly unsophisticated, but the main intention is to help you reflect on the influences on your own taste and development through attempting to decode someone else’s. In doing so you will encounter some basic ethical issues related to research: privacy and confidentiality, and your subjects’ responses to your activities. In future research, these will become much more important but for now this project will give you a chance both to do research, and to be the subject of research. It may well be uncomfortable!
This assignment gives you an opportunity to apply some of the concepts from Snoop to everyday situations. In doing this you should develop a deeper understanding of the book’s concepts and then apply them to your own practice or future observations.
An alternative to this assignment are suggested below in case you had trouble sourcing images, or have privacy concerns. You are free to choose.
Note that participation in this activity implies informed consent to have your photos seen by others and discussed publicly. If you are not comfortable having your images examined and discussed (which is entirely reasonable) please choose the alternative assignment.
Activity 1A: Find and select source material
For the “Christmas Assignment” you were asked to collect photographs of yourself growing up (not everyone will have been able to do – if this includes you then do the alternative assignment below).
In workshop 1 your group will be paired with another group. You will then locate that group’s images on the website http://C21designer.tumblr.com/ (which is password protected). Each photo should be tagged with the team number and individual student IDs. Clicking on the tags will filter – so clicking on a student ID will show you only that student’s photos.
You may be given many more photos than you can use. Go through the images and make a note of any that look particularly interesting. You want photos that are as natural and informal as possible, that show your subject, possibly with friends or members of their family, and show them in their home. Select around six photos for further study. Ideally these will cover a range of ages.
(Image by sanja gjenero, http://www.sxc.hu)
Activity 1B: Analysis and deduction
Now look at the photos. What do they tell you about your subject? Consider topics such as:
Taste – what do they like? Who are their favourite bands or TV stars? Favourite authors? What are their favourite colours? Some of this will need to be guesses but go from the evidence – don’t make it up. For example, a poster of Duran Duran may suggest musical tastes but so might a particular hair style or use of make-up. In other words, use clues but don’t focus on only obvious things.
Influences – again this may be favourite bands but also friends and family. Is your subject surrounded by people who dress the same, or do they stand out? What does this tell you? As they grow older do they assert their own identity or conform to what their parents or school or friends want them to look like?
Possessions – what do they own? What does their family own? Are they middle class? Working class? Is everything new? Is there a mix of styles or does everything look like it was bought at the same time or from the same shop?
Environment – how have they customised the space around them? If the space is similar to others’ (e.g. A university bedroom/study) how have they made it their own?
Activity 1C: Note-making and discussion
Write down notes. You might want to photocopy the images and draw on them, or use a computer program to add labels, or blow them up and use sticky labels. But in your notes build up a “picture” of the person from what you see, and by using both your instincts and your knowledge (e.g. if they’re wearing clothes like a friend of yours used to wear, maybe they’re similar in terms of outlook?)
Now make contact with your partner group and meet to discuss your findings. How accurate were you? What did you get right, and what did you get wrong? In particular, are there any observations you made that the other person had never considered before?
As your partner group does the same for you, how do you feel? Is there anything that is completely wrong? Or is there anything that you are uncomfortable about, but which may actually be accurate?
Write your thoughts on what the other person said about you. Have they revealed anything you thought was secret, or maybe that you did not know yourself?
(Image from hackcollege.com)
Activity 1D: The Johari Window
Look up “The Johari Window”. How does it help explain your reaction?
(Image from http://tinyurl.com/4fzuqu5)
Activity 1E: Blog
Now write a blog post about the process covering parts B, C and D (or separate blog posts for each stage if you prefer – you might find it easier)
In particular, answer the following questions:
- What did you learn about yourself?
- How did you feel 1) thinking about other people’s private lives and 2) being a research subject yourself?
- What do you think some of the ethical considerations to design research might be?
Note: Don’t post other people’s pictures to your blog without permission, but if the other person agrees, include them (or bits of them) to illustrate your post.
If you did not collect photos or are uncomfortable doing the assignment for any reason, please take photographs of one of the rooms in the home of another student who is also doing this alternative, or a friend or relative if you prefer. Take general shots and close-ups of specific objects, e.g. A kettle, cooker, utensils, crockery etc if choosing the kitchen. Ensure they do not tidy up beforehand.
All other activities as above.
1 Febuary 5pm