Tuesday, 22 October 2013

heuristic research and mirrors

I'm sure many thousands of psychology researchers have come across heuristic research, but it was new to me, as an artist and what's more interesting, it feels so familiar. The idea of complete immersion, solipsistic, isolated, staring into the mirror day after day and seeing so many faces looking back down over the years..............this is compelling. It's also very difficult to sustain without the feeling that you're slowly going slightly crazy. I'd like to have been around when Moustakas first wrote of this way of doing research, but I was too young, too distracted, just not ready to look into the void.

What bothers me slightly, regardless of how comfortable this type of research feels, is 'am I doing it right?'. This may not matter too much (at this stage) as there is no 'right', or so it seems. Is this too good to be true? I wonder? Phenomenological research offers many pathways, this is just one of them. But it has encouraged me to look again at what I'm doing, the question of rigour, integrity and variable truths. I'm now reflecting on some of the summer collages of this year, the visceral ones, where writing was almost impossible, apart from describing the process itself, my choice of materials etc. I wrote very little of their meaning, just needing the images to speak for me. Immersion and incubation have been and gone, I'm now at the illumination stage. Expilcation comes later. The creative synthesis is way down the line of thought, out of sight.

I'm doing a short talk at the GSA tomorrow on this blog and on reading back over these months of posts, it feels as if the chosen content is becoming much more serious, less conversational, (if it ever was that?) more contemplative, more questioning..............more 'grown up'. Or is it just me seeing it that way as I delve down into very uncomfortable undergrowth? I only tend to add a post when there is some aspect of the research I want to put out there, to share, to invite comment, or just to let go of it for a while. Initiating discourse would be good, the challenge to look again at the work in new ways would help me.


  1. I find these quite disturbing and I don't know why. They make me think of something unfurling, unfolding, unravelling or trying to, in no very comfortable way. Quite painful in fact. Almost threatening. (Have just noticed, all those 'un' words that come to mind - why?!)

  2. uncovering also comes to mind. These tongue like shapes are forked, as serpents tongues, and also untruths. It's almost like our minds are unravelling as answers are sought. Not comfortable at all. I don't find them disturbing, maybe because they are part of me, albeit a darker part?

  3. Uncovering - yes. That's good too. And untruths. Isn't this fascinating?

  4. I had a text message this morning from someone who feels the furls are like discarded party streamers. That too is poignant, speaks of something once treasured no longer needed or desired. Points of view(ing).


If you feel this resonates with your own experience in some way then feel free to comment.