The sensory voyage to inner islands

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Visual Communication Design
Humans are born storytellers. The visual narrative has been widely facilitated for people to express personal stories and internal feelings. Experiences and meanings are expressed, materialized and delivered to others. This collaborative project investigates the efficacy of the creative, sensory storytelling method to enable self-expression in both conscious and unconscious ways. Drawing and food, both of which are universal concepts, were combined as the major visualising tool. These components facilitated self-expression through the workshop experience in physical, emotional and multi-sensory ways. Focusing on personal storytelling, this workshop was an attempt to explore the unconscious space of the mind. It borrows from therapeutic methods of projective drawing and expressive therapy. In other words, participants created an imaginative self-portrait in a form of landscape—an island to be specific—with nature as a thematic metaphor. Each mental landscape was in turn transformed into recipe of bread. Bread, as edible self, thus enabled people to materialize their inner selves through making it. Participants shared their stories with others by sharing about and eating each other’s bread throughout the entire multi-sensory experience. The analysis of stories visualized in drawings and in bread, along with participants’ feedback, examined participants’ feelings of self-expression and how familiar elements (drawing and food) could be used when combined for storytelling in a creative way. As a result of this study, a new form of self-portrait, created by workshop participants, was delivered. By doing so, this project encouraged people to enjoy an emotional experience; focusing on themselves as well as sharing their stories with others. The contributions to this research is five-fold. Chapter 1 discusses the formulation of research questions based on three parts of my initial interests in an environmental, personal, and social context. Chapter 2 provides theoretical studies and case studies of the following three aspects; stories on self in relation to others; visual storytelling practices of self-portraits; and projective drawing in psychological and in social science perspectives. Multi-sensory interventions for emotional and personalized experience, along with food, were used as communicative medium. Chapter 3 illustrates the explorative design workshop “Leipäsaari” from concept formulation to workshop procedure. Chapter 4 presents the excursion of six workshops targeting small-scale groups of participants as well as one large-scale exhibition for the general public. The whole process of the work was documented by using one or more of the following methods: photographs, video, voice recording, project diaries, drawings, website and blog. At the end of the project, in chapter 5, a conclusion is addressed which summarizes the following: overall reflection, limitations of the entire project to evaluate research questions and an overview of future possibilities of this study.
Dodson, Zachary
Thesis advisor
Masoodian, Masood
storytelling, multi-sensory experience, drawing, food, design workshop
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