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

Moira Ricci’s photographs: A dynamic relationship with her mother, after her death.

‘Well I hear the music, close my eyes, feel the rhythm, wrap around, take a hold of my heart’ (Ora sento la musica, Chiudo gli occhi, Sento il ritmo che mi avvolge, Fa presa nel mio cuore) and 20.12.53-10.08.04 are works made by Italian artist Moira Ricci created between 2004 – 2009 following the death of her mother. ‘Well I hear the music…’ is a video piece created from home video footage taken by Ricci’s mother of her at dance recitals as a child and 20.12.53-10.08.04 comprises a series of photographs from Ricci’s family archive each featuring her mother over the course of her life. Ricci altered each photograph to add herself into the image – always at the same age, as an adult, and always looking at her mother. Ricci’s craft has enabled her to manipulate the photographs to create a realistic inclusion of her own image to the variety of different qualities of photograph that make up the work.

Ricci describes the works as a response to her mothers death stemming from her need to both remove the image of her mothers’ dead body from her mind and also to “carry on an external dialogue with (her) mother” (Ricci 2011) – firstly by seeing through her eyes (through the video footage taken by her mother) and secondly by placing herself within photographs of her mother to try to warn her of the accident that would lead to her death. The gaze is central to both pieces; in reference to 20.12.53-10.08.04 Ricci states “I always look at her as I need to tell her about the accident that is going to separate us. You can see from my gaze that I already know what will happen. Unfortunately I remained trapped in the picture, but at least close to her” (Ricci 2011). This body of work we know took place over five years (2004 – 2009) suggesting an ongoing-ness, a developing dialogue and possibly what Silverman and Klass refer to as a continued process of negotiation and meaning making.

Posted by Jayne