In setting out to find out more about a subject, it is all too easy to type a few keywords into a search engine and allow the internet to spew forth vast swathes of ready-made information which may or may not be reliable. Or even perhaps to head to your bookshelf or a library to access books and journals on a topic. We favour another approach first: what you already know and have direct access to is an ideal starting point. You are working to develop your own unique visual language that reflects your view on the world. Find ways to expand your own knowledge, memories, interpretations and experiences before you look to information from secondary sources.
Exercise: Blindfold Discussion
This is an exercise in trusting your own initial feelings, thoughts and responses. It is also a way of extending your research base, accessing the knowledge of people around you to enrich and inform your own thinking on a subject. In taking away your sense of sight, you are removing visual distractions and the tendency to focus on the reactions of others. It is a way of initiating a different type of conversation around a subject. You will need to be in a group of three to five people and you will each need a sleep mask or a piece of fabric to tie around your head as a blindfold.
1. Define the topic for discussion
This could come from a project you are working on or it could be any subject that you are interested in and would like to explore in more depth.
2. Put on your blindfolds!
It can be good at this point to each speak about how it feels to have your sense of sight removed. This allows everyone to get used to the sensation and to feel comfortable talking without seeing.
Your discussion should last around 10–15 minutes. Organise your discussion around the following questions:
• What do you know about the subject?
• What have you experienced or come across that has a relationship to the subject?
• What visual images or associations does the subject conjure?
Replay and reflect upon the discussion. What did you find out that you didn’t already know? What did you hear that you would like to find out more about? Could any of the visual associations be interesting starting points?
Central Saint Martins Foundation Book by Lucy Alexander and Timothy Meara is published by Ilex, £25. Available to purchase here.