In yesterday's blog, I talked about the Journal Project and my attempts to stretch myself using arts-based research. Today, I'll share an example--a Visual Memo
As I was writing in the Journal about the Journal Project, I was led to consider the issue of how the journal is a very different container from the academic prose into which I've been so deeply socialized. Later I extracted this set of entries (xeroxed them out) and sat down to work with them in visual form. The result of which is what I would consider a Visual Memo.
Here's where it starts. I used an old collage. I cut it up and used the back of it.
My next thought, see below, was about the way I conceptualize the two genres. Imaginatively speaking, I see the containers as different looking.
Within the genre of the journal, I see the contents represented in a different way from that of academic prose. It's colorful, filled with curved lines. It has accents, punctuation, and places of heat, depth, and surfacing.
Academic prose, on the other hand...well you can see for yourself in this visual that is dominated by the structure of the outline, the lines of text, and comments that are carefully separated from the body of the text.
Two things that seem particularly different to me between these two genres--are at the heart of the Journal Project--emotion! [Feelings, subjectivity, sensitivity, personal concerns and reactions--how else can I name thee?]
In academic prose, specifically the world of qualitative research, I conceptualize it as subjectivity, a boxed item that has a place within the outline. Within that box, there seems to be emotional content, but it is carefully contained--like a kind of hazardous waste!
A goal of the journal project is to help me bring these two different worlds of prose (and ideas) together in some meaningful way. I imagine that this will have to be a process. In this illustration they are just beginning to touch, but they are being drawn together by some kind of surrounding net.
Over time, I can assume that the forms will create a closer and more integrated merger. In the merger depicted below--the outline and text of academic prose are distinct and yet one with the curves and colors of the journal...the journal content is held within the framework of the academic prose, which has also expanded in new ways.
Thinking about the containers of the journal vs the kind of container formed by academic prose...leads me to my other big container: the E-Project. As mentioned earlier, this is a term that I am using to describe the electronic container that Qualitative Data Analysis Software provides as a place to store, organize, and interpret qualitative research materials. I've given a lot of thought to how I, and my students, came to visualize the E-Project as we used them over time for different kinds of qualitative research work. Here is a visualization of my sense of the E-Project:
And now the trick for me is going to be how to think with visual memos in the E-Project.
If you are interested in the notion of Visual Memos, I highly recommend the graphic novel and work available on illustrated journals. Two sources that I really like are:
1. Linda Barry's book: What It Is
2. Danny Gregory's book: An Illustrated Life♠