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A process review

This is the beginning of my process review. It is a review of my thesis work and explorations from fall 2022 term all the way to March 2023.

There is an erray of notes from ECUAD faculty members, personal notes, comments from my peers during peer review, and final observations.

Peer review

This peer review occurred in March 3rd, 2023. This is my second peer review, which occurs in every studio class at ECUAD.

It’s an opportunity for students to share their studio process and get feedback on your process from your peers.

For my peer review, I laid out a mindmap in class, representing the current relationship between key ideas for my thesis.

I discussed my studio exploration with students while pointing to some of the cards on the floor, and encouraged students to choose certain cards as points of interest for dialogic conversation.

I laid objects, material and past projects around the cards. Things like my wooden puzzle piece, my beaded poppy, my explorations (D&D and improvisation), my circle/fish animation, the Deceiviest game, my gift-giving, and vulnerable story-building workshop. Key readings of interests were laid out.

Readings includes some highlights. But a complete list of my readings can be found here.

Self

Empathy
Incorporating blurred lines
compassion
sharing

Indigeneity

laughter
embodiment
environment
passing down
love
connection
introspection
space
closeness

Stories

Dance
community
movement
connection
feminism
expression
sharing
sexuality
authentic selves
no inhibitions
closer to self

Narrative

exploration
framework
failing forward
improvising stories
subversion
perspectives
worldbuilding
universal
laughter
self-led

Playful

Space between
Inherent value
playground metaphor
others
your own way
performance
tuning to your own energy
coming to self
trust
aliveness

My overall impression was that it went well, but that students needed more detail of my process work for each of my projects.

Feedback

Below are feedback sessions from my classmates, as well as Connie Watts from the Aboriginal Gathering Place, and Louise.

Indigenous perspective – Connie Watts

Connie noticed two distinct areas from the get-go – areas of self (Self + Indigeneity), and tools/methods (narrative, stories, playful), which are used to express one’s self. Already I was feeling relief from talking with her.

I know that I also envy people who are naturally talented at visualizing their process through storytelling. I guess it’s because they’re able to find a way to engage the audience and help them understand why it matters.

Connie mentioned that perhaps my method of story engaging is when I’m implicating my participants in my design, encouraging them to embody the experience. My gift might be to help people express in their own way.

From a personal perspective, having people understand me feels like a basic human need.

If I find a way to involve my audience in my design process through embodiment, I can share my way and my story with them.

Connie being the ever-seeing auntie that she is, cut straight to it. I talk about indigeneity but I don’t feel comfortable owning it. That’s true.

She saw that I was tepid about owning my indigeneity. If I spend time letting go of all this work, I can work on accepting my point of view, owning it. that can start, in part, by stepping foot on Fisher River.

To own it, she recommends spending a month in Fisher River, being in the space, giving depth to who I am and my viewpoints. To just be in those spaces, she said. there will be a lot coming out of that.

She noted that I had a powerful presence, and that I was in a really great place in my research. She applauded me for where I was at.

Student feedback

After laying our my mind-map, I answered questions about what the workshop was about (the dance dance vegetation, and what I loved. It make sense since we didn’t get to talk about it much afterwards.

[…]

I was asked whether I was feeling playful while I was designing playful experiences. I explained that I get sparks of excitement when people deviate, how something should work and break something apart. As well as how people feel within the structure.

While I’m making, I get excited about discerning new things and seeing how I can incorporate it. I’m seeking personal enjoying rather than a sustained sense of playfulness. For example I didn’t feel playful when making my large mind-map.

[…]

Jade asked whether joy need to feel present when people are playful, and what get in the way of long-form duration of playfulness. Could exploring what stops playfulness. I said that i preferred the end-result experience.

This is where the playground metaphor comes in. Kids are coming in and out of a playful experience, got to a fence, play with friends, acti wild on the monkey bars, play pretend at the top of the climbing ladder. It’s where people can come in and our of a playful environment.

Creating a playground of various experiences, and seeing what people are left with, is interesting to me. What people are left with afterwards is what shapes our experience. I believe that’s more physical than it can be reasoned.

[…]

Diego though it was interesting to look at how I tried expressing and visualizing more ephemeral works. I appreciate how I’m exploring experiences.

Half of my work are things that can’t be put into words (embodying) and the other half can be put into words (story-telling and making).

He noted that there are a multitude of feelings that comes from vulnerable experiences. Tangent feelings.

I wonder whether I should break down the different tangent feelings for people to understand.

He recommended how we can have a final product of people expressing themselves in their stories. A final expression by participants, like a story, or their expressive feedback.

[…]

Howsem mentioned the politics of storytelling, and whether I would like to explore this more. I mentioned my interest in seeing how indigenous participants would create stories.

[…]

Why playfulness? and what is the value of it?

It’s being able to express who you are, self-expression through playfulness, it’s capacity through autonomy, to get closer to who you are, or a compass that steers you to a true north star.

Playfulness a manifestation of the self.

[…]

What key words in my mindmap go together? I wasn’t sure. of the top of my head, there were relationships between embodying things, connections and creating space. Those seem important to explore more. Introspection and interopsection.

[…]

Eden thought that the map wasn’t specific enough. That when I was talking, I gave much more than what was written down. She recommended connecting things and finding the right words, like how self-expression is different than playful, maybe self-expression is more important or overarching. It would be nice to have specific words to understand my thesis and what I’m focusing on.

I agree that some words are more important, but the mindmap are where these words find themselves in. their house, so to speak.

Refining could lead me to anchor points, said Sahil. Do some things make more sense in some sections?

[…]

Eden also recommended mapping out the projects and overlaying the blue card keywords on the map. it will be helpful for finding big things.

I now appreciate that my projects are meant to be explorations and an exploration of what is important and interesting to me. Students in class are trying to unlearn the tidy process that was drilled into them. The mindmap was a “landscape of my thoughts,” as Louise said, a softer tone rather than definitive communication of my work. the softer tone intended to be points of interrogation rather than working within a definitive framework.

Louise

During my peer review, Louise epressed her appreciated the blurred line. she appreciated how much I articulated ideas. the groups radiate, and blur together with perhaps a core of indigeneity. and therefore can be rearranged. She made a note to class that we don’t need to come to a definition of things, she prefers the blurred lines. I made so many good projects that’s been affected by this exploration principle.

Refining could lead to stronger center points or key words, by engaging more with the mindmap.

She mentioned that indigenous politics of long-form story-making can be its own thesis. Embodying practices for animators can be a thesis project. All this extra content comes up and percolates, come up through the work.

We don’t need to figure everything out. So she thinks is very good in terms of a theoretical and conceptual framework. The choosing of right words will come up in the process in the next year and the half.

[…]

During our one on one, she recommended looking at other aspects of storytelling, and how story can be told.

She noted that an interesting thesis exploration could be: How we become a better storyteller by embodying out storytelling practice.

For my interim thesis, I should have three to four readings on my key topics (or plan to) have these key readings.

Reflection

After reviewing my mindmap, and reading my notes and recording from my peer review, I wrote down a few notes of reflection.

Not everyone is going to be supporting and understanding of my process, and that’s okay.

A short lift of what I wanted for he future
lists of what I enjoyed the most, and the least

What I’ve been enjoying the most…

  • Personal discovery and development, The point of be being at school is to look at my interest and do self-exploration.
  • I also miss making, but I’m unsure how that will tie into my research.
  • Learning new techniques in narrative design
  • Most excited reading is about Esther Perrel’s eroticisms of life.
  • Seeing participants have fun
  • Working with animators, makers and within a film or set production line.
  • Encouraging people to embody feelings and expressing them, rather than rationalizing them.
  • Seeing how people deviate from the structure and find playful expressions of it
  • exploring embodied storytelling, and the ephemeral, unique nature of storytelling.

… and enjoying the least

  • defining my indigeneity… somehow comes up a lot in my reflections
  • creating workshops (enjoy conducting them)
  • not forcing “connection” and “community” as keywords
  • How academic research, though necessary in my work, breathes no life in making and doing.

Chat with Connie

With regards to my indigeneity, I have a hard time being vulnerable about it, and I see how that totally fits into the self/centre that Connie was arguing for. Why am I infusing indigeneity in my research? Because it’s overlooked in western research? Please. It’s to reconnect with myself, with ancestors who get lost. It’s to feel through the generations, for all my family that was removed and uprooted from home. From French migrants, Sottish settlers, to the Crees.

connecting through embodying is connecting to what is lost. To finding that lost love, affection with ourselves as much with others.

With regards to connecting with myself, I find that in-part, connecting with the community and the land might be cathartic. I also feel like I don’t want to push aside of overshadow the relationship (and the beauty in it) with my other ancestors. The French and Scottish ancestry.

Next steps

Keywords of interest
  • Storytelling
  • Embodiment
  • Story-making
  • Spatial design (the importance of intention setting before beginning the story-making practice) + Designing Narrative structure for people to explore self-led story-making
  • Indigenous principles of storytelling
  • playful exercises/games for embodiment
  • Self-expression; empowerment, deviance
Defining “Why does it matter”

It’s time for me to also look at what aliveness, coming to/true expression of yourself, connection with others, play and engagement really means. in particular, looking at it outside of my own mind, and dabbling into the literature, into my observations, and including what these mean for me.

As well, why does telling stories matter, why does creating a space for storytelling matter?

Integrating myself in my work

That last past, what it means for me, really has to come from the part of putting the “Self” bubble in the center of my work. I want to explore what it might mean if I uncovered my self in my work.

  • What have I discovered around narrative design and structure spaces for people to structure their own stories?
  • Reading “storyteller tactics”
  • How can I visualized my Self in the center of everything that I do? Why is that important, how would I describe that?
  • what is my role? am I more of a story-navigator, the winds in the sails as opposed to the direction of the ship.
More reading
  • Femininity and storytelling: I am curious to see whether femininity is another way to help us embody our work. Running with the wolves is a great examples of story and embodiment.

Reaffirm the knowledge I have, my voice, empowerment practices, and my connection too.

Embodiment practices and their effects. Looking into theatre, design bodystorming techniques, acting,

Completing the workshop

The workshop (details please**) is the final activity that I’ll be organizing. finding ways to bring about action in our workshops would be great.

Letting go

I was feeling adversarial when I received feedback from students. Seeing it as advice, that not everyone will understand or resonate with my work. That it is a process, not always clear or communicative, and that’s more than okay.

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