Friday, 18 May 2007

Hokey, yet helpful.

The book with the most impact for me thus far has not been about my research focus at all, but a kind of research guide called "Visualising Research: A Guide to the Research Process in Art and Design" by Carole Gray and Julian Malins. It reads as though it were written for me, in the exact stage I'm in, in the exact program I'm in, and for anyone undertaking practise-based or practise-lead PhD research in design, I believe it would work the same way. The emphasis is not only on creating original thought, but in ensuring that what you decide to research is of wider use. Sounds simple, and like something I should have a grip on by now, but it's great to have these things which Michael utters re-articulated later, when I'm thinking and writing at home. I'm going to have to buy the book and have it at home. It's like a disciplining cane and an encouraging voice, right there on the shelf.

One of the early questions posed by the authors is: If they use the metaphor "journey of discovery", what metaphors are relavant to my research? Explain in short story form.

As I see it now, my work is to hack a path through dense forest to erect an elaborate, sheltering hut on stilts at the end of the path. The path will need to be wide enough for others to follow, and for them to see the destination beyond the confusing undergrowth. The hut will afford a view of the space around it, and be ammenable to additions later on, according to the needs of others and changing circumstances. The hut will be a place where the people that I invite down the path will want to stay, and looking out from its windows they will be able to see the world differently. Beneath the hut the jungle can continue to grow and tangle, but the hut will provide safe and enjoyable shelter.

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