Friday, October 1, 2010

Creative Methods for Creative Explorations

This week's recommended readings include a link to the website of an incredibly innovative, mixed-methods research project led by David Gauntlett at the University of Westminster. Gauntlett is definitely a "salsa dancing social scientist" and uses "creative methods" or "creative visual methods" of his own design to explore a very tricky, very ambiguous and very hard to express set of questions about identity. Gauntlett's Art Lab Approach taps into personal creativity and subjective experience, enlisting the subjects as direct participants in a creative research process that involves a hands on manipulation of objects, materials and technologies. Gauntlett describes the rationale for his approach as follows:
"Engagement with contemporary media typically involves a complex interchange of visual information, aspirations, ideas, and references to other media, across an array of electronic and print formats. However, the traditional research paradigms have tended to treat people as audiences of specific forms and genres, and have then expected them to describe their reception and interpretation of these messages, in words, to researchers. Thus the complex, multi-layered, visual world of today's media consumption is sliced up and dissolved into straightforward, written accounts of its 'reception'.
The ArtLab studies represent a new type of research in which media consumers' own creativity, reflexivity and knowingness is harnessed, rather than ignored. In these studies, individuals are asked to produce media or visual material themselves, as a way of exploring their relationship with particular issues or dimensions of media."
©2007-2010 David Gauntlett

His approach can thus be seen as an alternative to interviews and focus groups - a face-to-face, qualitative method of inquiry, that incorporates some aspects of quasi-experiment, aspects of user-centred research, aspects of ethnography and aspects of media education. I've asked that you hone in on the LEGO Serious Play project, so that we have a mutual reference point example of the method in action. Also, the project website is filled to the brim with descriptions, examples and other materials from the LEGO studies, including slideshows, videos (e.g. check out this overview of the method itself), and data samples.

If you love this approach (or are just curious about it), you should definitely check out Creative Explorations - an entire book about Gauntlett's creative research methods!

1 comment:

  1. If anyone is interested in exploring this method further, Jennette and I (from Group 2) will be hosting a visual research workshop on Friday, October 8 from 2 to 4 PM. We will be using clay to model our research ideas and share them with the other workshop participants. Please see this blog post for more details: