Alone Together, the Social Life of Benches: how filmmaking can help to tell detailed and nuanced stories about encounters, exclusion and wellbeing in outdoor spaces.

JOHNSON, Esther (2016). Alone Together, the Social Life of Benches: how filmmaking can help to tell detailed and nuanced stories about encounters, exclusion and wellbeing in outdoor spaces. In: COLES, Richard, COSTA, Sandra and WATSON, Sharon, (eds.) Well-being 2016 : Co-creating Pathways to Well-being. Birmingham, Birmingham City University, 206-209.

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Official URL: http://bcuwellbeing.co.uk/book-of-proceedings/

Abstract

‘Alone Together, the Social Life of Benches’ was created as part of collaborative AHRC research ‘The Bench Project’ exploring how individuals and groups use public space. One of the aims for this research was to test how making a film can help tell detailed and nuanced stories about encounters, exclusion and wellbeing in outdoor spaces. The eighteen-minute poetic documentary made by Esther Johnson uses a series of oral testimonies in order to illuminate the thoughts of frequent users of two public spaces in London: General Gordon Square, Woolwich and St Helier Open Space, Sutton. Revolving around the micro-space of the humble bench, the film acts like a stranger who joins you to ‘watch the world go by’, and to break the ice by starting a conversation with their fellow bench user. This presentation will include a film screening with introduction that discusses how the experiential capacity of film is used to highlight themes such as the feeling of being in a space, the rhythm and flow of visitors to a place, and the importance of design for everyday street furniture. During the research period of making the film, Johnson conducted repeated audio interviews in the knowledge that this material would be used both for the film, and as social data for a written report. Thus the interview questioning was extended, the resulting transcriptions aiding the research in multiple dimensions. The filming technique is non-synch, to promote a close attention and understanding of what is being said. Keywords: Documentary Filmmaking; Ethnography; Oral Testimony; Portrait; Social Research

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Book of Proceedings from Well-Being 2016, Birmingham, 5-6 September 2016.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Esther Johnson
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2016 09:41
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2017 13:40
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13883

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