Frank Kolkman

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I’m sharing this work from Frank Kolkman because it has given me much pause for thought in relation to our ongoingness project and the potential use of technology to support people in relation to mortality. The Dezeen article uses phrases and terminology that perhaps sensationalise the piece and aren’t the way that I’d talk about mortality (i.e. Kolkman calls the piece an ‘Out-of-body experience simulator’ but it is written up as a ‘Death simulation machine’) – and there is something very interesting more broadly here about the way that cultural commentary and documentation talks about death that this plays into – but the piece itself seems to have a far more nuanced, open, ambiguous and gentle approach to gaining a personal perspective on your own mortality.

posted by Jayne


I met some wonderful academics and filmmakers at the AHRC Workshop: ‘Connecting or Excluding? New Technologies & Connected Communities, in Glasgow last week. Thank you to Andrew Prescott and Keri Facer for the invitation. Helen Manchester gave a keynote about her research on the Tangible Memories project and Parlours of Wonder and I was lucky to also have some rich discussions with her separately. We shared some of our similar experiences of how people living in care homes find ways to ‘place themselves in age’ – meaning that because the care home is a complex environment, that is at times more a workplace than a homely one, people living there often find personal ways to adapt to this. This chimed with work that I’ve done with Sian Lindley and it was fascinating to hear Helen speaking about her experiences.

The work of Michele Aaron and Briony Campbell in the research Life:Moving Digital Technology and Human Vulnerability: Towards an Ethical Film Praxis was astonishing. They introduced and screened a number of the films at the workshop and this, for me, set such an important tone for the whole 2 days of presentations, discussions and thinking about what it means to support self through digital technologies and what an ethical praxis is in challenging contexts like end of life. Through the project collaboration between researchers, photographer and film-maker and hospice patients the power of film was explored to “communicate the meaningful and honest experiences of those affected by terminal illness.” The work was supported in part by the John Taylor Hospice, University of Birmingham and the AHRC.

There are so many things to say about this work – and also the stunning film made previously by Briony – The Dad Project There is a beauty in each of the films and once I’ve digested the work further I’ll write again about them as there are some incredibly significant things for us to consider on the project and as we start to work in depth with people ourselves.

Helen, Michele and Briony have agreed to act as critical friends to the Ongoingness project and I’m looking forward to their perspectives on what we are developing and the rich conversations to come.

Written by Jayne

An ethical framework and roadmap for the project

We are currently developing an ethical framework and a roadmap to thinking through ethical opportunities for projects such as ours where design researchers seek to work with people in a co-creative manner in contexts such as dementia, end of life or bereavement.

(password: ongoing050218)

It is a complex thing to think through, but rich in opportunities and we hope that we can develop resources over the next few months that help people work through their own projects and challenges.

We are being helped by our project partners and others to think through this (i.e. the fab attendees at the Lab4Living Intersections of Practice symposium workshop in September 2017 ‘Where design and health meet ethics: creating an ethical framework for ongoingness’) – thank you all!