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A collaboration between deaf and disabled artists and interior architecture students

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Capturing the process

During the Making Discursive Spaces project we attempted to reflect on what was happening… through seminars, tutorial discussions, via a blog and through feedback sessions.

Tutoring

The tutorials were fruitful on both sides, particularly in working through issues in relation to a specific design:

For me the 1:1 contact, particularly when Rachel gave me such a good reference to an artist who I could go and explore – it was a perfect reference for me.
Student feedback 11th May 2007
A breakthrough for me was when both Naomi and Rubbena actually talked about about how they use their artist studio/space or any space when they are making work… so learning about, for example, the light and materials that were good to have around them.
Student feedback 11th May 2007
Caroline gave me some really useful information about cabinets with rotating shelves.
Student feedback 11th May 2007
The development of the pulley idea for accessing my storage staircase came out of the need to create access for a range of users, so the idea was developed to be more inclusive, but not really changed.
Student feedback 11th May 2007
I just got so much exploring the lift as a separate and more meaningful fun inclusive experience alongside the obvious logic of lifts re: access.
Student feedback 11th May 2007
When Caroline talked about her freewheeling down the slope at the Tate, it was just very funny…
Student feedback 11th May 2007
I felt I knew more about what was going on in my design through talking 1:1 with several of the artists.
Student feedback 11th May 2007

Blogging

Using the blog was more problematic for both artists and students. This was partly difficulties in access to the internet and in registering for, or using the blog itself.

I couldn’t get on it.
Student feedback May 11th 2007
Sometimes I posted stuff up and it never appeared.
Student feedback May 11th 2007
I spent some time putting my stuff up and then received no comments so I felt a bit disheartened.
Student feedback May 11th 2007
It wasn’t because of lack of access to it, more lack of time really.
Student feedback May 11th 2007
I actually found the 1:1 more immediate and valuable.
Student feedback May 11th 2007

More problematic though, were issues of language and tone. The blog aimed to engage with debates at different levels simultaneously – theory, practicalities, news and information-sharing. Some found it too academic in tone. Others felt unsure about how to use it and were anxious about what the different participants would think of their comments.

The language in the blog was quite academic and intensive, I found it quite alienating and it was hard to connect with it.
Artists feedback May 11th 2007
I was concerned about how I came across. I didn’t express how I felt because I wanted to be sensitive, so I didn’t say half of what I would have liked to have said.
Artists feedback May 11th 2007
I am not an academic and I would have to sit and think about what was being said and sometimes I would have to get my dictionary out.
Artists feedback May 11th 2007
It would have been good to have had a space; to create a tone which allowed everyone to really say what they felt in images as well as in text.
Artists feedback May 11th 2007
A flickr photo/image blog might encourage people to respond and bounce off each other’s ideas and think visually without the need for words.
Artists feedback May 11th 2007
Perhaps some agreed ways of using the blog to encourage more free speech, quick reflections and easy dialogue.
Artists feedback May 11th 2007
Were the students put off by tutors and artists being on the blog, mediated in part by them?
Artists feedback May 11th 2007
There was no anonymity… and there was the question re: different perception of tone, intonation… and not getting what you can usually get from facial expressions… that is missing in a blog.
Artists feedback May 11th 2007

In a way, the blog revealed most immediately the differences in participants’ experiences and aims for the Making Discursive Spaces project – the tensions and potentially contradictory aims its academic, artistic and political threads.

This highlighted for me how much the project had been framed by my particular concerns as a (non-disabled) academic interested in understanding the diversity of experience of the built environment.

  Next: Giving up ‘my room’

The Discursive Spaces blog

We used a weblog as a way of capturing and communicating the process. This is now archived. Visit the project blog
Arts Council England University of Brighton, Interior Architecture and Design

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