The project I am embarking on spans across my final year towards my degree and I have decided to share that journey with you here in the form of a research blog! This will be a space to document all of my scribbled down ideas, sketches and research all the way through to the development of my concept and final outcomes. I have titled my project ‘Comfort in Continuity’ as this felt like a very apt theme for the current times we all find ourselves in. I hope it can bring a little bit of comfort to those who come along on this journey with me!
Project title: Comfort in Continuity
Subtitle: A project exploring the comfort that can be drawn from realising and embracing the constants in our surroundings with a view to considering how a focus on what can’t be stopped can bring comfort in an increasingly restrictive world.
Aims: I aim to explore the constants in our environment which can be held onto regardless of anything else happening in the modern world. This would be done with a view to encouraging positivity and mindfulness by recognising the continuity, freedom and movement within nature and the environment.
Objectives: In order to do this I will carry out a range of reportage-based research. This will be done as a means of documenting the elements of our lives that cannot be restricted or taken away from us in the way we have all experienced in recent months. I could also use questionnaires as a way of gathering information about what a range of individuals have taken comfort in in recent times and consider how I could illustrate this to encourage and share this comfort with others.
The Brief: Produce a tangible object which exhibits a range of illustrations, in an interactive way, in order to engage the public with the idea of finding comfort in continuity. In order to do this a range of research on themes such as mindfulness, nature and movement should be carried out. This should be done by gaining an understanding of the impact of mindfulness and self comfort on mental health as well as gathering a range of views on what brings comfort to the general public in trying times. A wide range of reportage should also be complete in order to document movement and continuity in the environment of Portsmouth in order to explore the impact of encouraging the audience to observe and interact with an unstoppable environment.
Medium: I would explore mediums which lend themselves to fast gestural images which convey movement, such as ink, pen, watercolour, gouache and graphite. These mediums could then be adapted digitally for a more refined style to feature on an outcome which could be a tangible, interactive object.
Initial research sources:
Oxford Mindfulness Centre https://oxfordmindfulness.org
Mindfulness: Where It Comes From And What It Means – book by Sarah Shaw
Comfort Theory and Practice: A Vision for Holistic Health Care and Research – Katharine Kolcaba PhD, RN, C – Springer Publishing Company, 30 Dec 2002
For this self directed project, I have given myself the title Comfort in Continuity. I want to use this project to explore the elements of our lives which cannot be restricted, as we have all been experiencing during these Covid-19-driven times. To do this I am beginning my research by considering themes such as mindfulness as well as using reportage as a method of observing people and how their movement, creativity and connection with nature cannot be stopped.
To underpin my ideas I have been looking into the concept of mindfulness as well as it’s origins and role in mental health.
Upon the advice of my lecturers and peers I decided to try sketchnoting as a method of visualising the information I gather through my research. Here I used it to look into the psychological side of mindfulness in order to get a grasp of how the ideas of mindfulness could be used to further my project. I found lots of information in Yi-Yuan Tang’s book ‘The Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation’ which has made me think about how the mind can be cultivated through, what are essentially, very basic techniques.
When reflecting on some of my initial reportage this image stood out as something that resonated with me and made me think. I wondered what this man might have been thinking about as he sat alone looking out at the sea. So I took the image to procreate, added a dash of colour and put my mind to all the things he might have been thinking about. I played with quick, jotted typography to display a range of possible flickering thoughts and used block colour to physically separate them from the sea which could act as an object of sensory focus to distract from the thoughts.
Having considered ideas of mindful meditation and its reliance on attention control (focus on an object via the senses) I explored how the sea could be an object of focus in this process. I looked at research suggesting the sea has a positive impact on mental health. I considered Wallace Nichols’ ideas of ‘blue mind’ which suggest, as humans, we have a deep biological connection to water which allows it to trigger positive, anxiety-reducing responses. I then created a visual response exploring how sensory focus on the waves could allow someone to pause and reflect on their thought processes.
Blue Mind by Wallace Nichols
I have researched preoccupation as a means of understanding the current issues people are dealing with that could potentially begin to be addressed through mindfulness. I asked some questions to my instagram followers to get an idea of their current worries as well as things that help them and make them feel calm.
Research source: https://exploringyourmind.com/problem-with-preoccupation/
Here I explored the responses to the questions I asked on instagram. I tried working larger with this experiment to make it more expressive and impactful. The deepest area features the responses about what people are worried about at the moment. I did this as a way of displaying them as waves of these thoughts crashing in and disrupting our lives. However, the waves dissipate and soften out as the responses to things and places ,which are calming, come into the picture.