I have been neglecting my blog terribly, but it has been very difficult to justify to myself the time to spend on it in the face of getting PhD work done and family stuff.
Last week I presented on my research progress at the Leisure Studies Association conference at the University of the West of Scotland. The experience was very helpful and one of the questions made me think about the nature of my digital outcome. I was asked if the digital representation of Towneley Park would simply provide a carbon copy of the quiet contemplative appreciation of nature; will it simply reinforce already accepted and predominant perceptions of nature and crystallise them?
The first answer to this is that it wouldn’t matter if it did reproduce predominant perceptions because the important aspect is identifying what the participants feel about the park and exploring the success of its translation into digital media. However, it is already clear that what is important about the park is not static. The participants have been expressing so much about the park that is linked to the seasons, the cycles of their lives, to movement through the park or change in oneself by being in the park. The meanings of the park are not crystallisable because they are uses and they are processual and continual.
So, a recap to cover the absent blog entries.
The story-based nature of the interviews and the data collected so far was pointed out to me by my supervisors last month. Owing to this, I am now aiming to explore the data collected using an approach of narrative analysis. This should help me to analyse not only the interview contents, but also the use of the park space. So here there is narrative expressed through language (spoken and written/transcribed) (Fraser 2004; Schorch 2014 ) but also through the use of space and the use of the body (de Certeau 1984; Tilley 1994). The second stage of data collection is currently underway and involves me visiting the park with participants in order to collect phenomenological, or phenomenologically-prompted, data. Although all aspects of discussing the park are in my view part of knowing the park, it is this second data collection stage which holds a strong sense of “practice as research” for me.
Development of the digital representation has recently been influenced by the following things:
the narrative nature of the park meanings
commonly expressed notions of variety and choice within the park by the participants
thoughts about narrative and choice inspired by an independent game “The Stanley Parable”
These things have led me to consider incorporating aspects of game architectures into the representation of the park…
No, not with shotguns and coin collecting (at least not with this research project). Rather, I am hoping to incorporate some of the narrative techniques used in game structures which can help to create a sense of place or at least a sense of involvement. This part of my research is in the early stages and I am not aiming to construct anything especially complex, but I am hoping to be able to use a gaming framework to help tell and make accessible multiple Towneley Park stories