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Gathering Research

October 12, 2009


These images are the product of Friday’s Research session with Orlagh. Working with Anna-Maria, we gathered every piece of photo ID from the wallets of each student in the class. We arranged the ID cards in order, top left to bottom right, starting with student cards, then driving licenses, travel cards, government ID cards, then miscellaneous.

How did we get on?

+ : While one student had as many as 4 items, others had only one. Because we used all the ID cards rather than just one from each student, this distorted the results, and produced interesting comparisons where similar though not identical multiple portraits of the same person appeared. I keep my girlfriend’s old student rail card in my wallet, so there was also in effect an impostor in the group.
– : The scope of our research was limited by the small number of students in the class.
i : A conclusion common to each group was that widening the scope would yield more interesting results.

I think in this case our engagement with the brief was fairly basic, and the results are visually unspectacular, but by the end of the session I felt I understood the point Orlagh was trying to get across: the difference between gathering data and presenting it, and how this process can contribute to the successful interpretation of a brief.

After the session I took a closer look at the examples Orlagh gave. In addition to Daniel Eatock’s Vandalised Trees Reoriented, Car Batteries, and other many and varied collections, I enjoyed Wayne Daly’s book The Names, an A-Z collection of the aliases from all the spam email he received over a five year period. Here is a man who needs a proper hobby.
But it was Orlagh’s own MA project research site that provided the most comprehensive example. I think it’s a great idea for students to have access to their tutors’ own work, like: okay, I understand what you’re saying, but how would you do it?
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