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GALLERY 2010/2011

visual communication practice



Description of idea

Describe your idea and concept of your work in relation to the festival outlines:

My submission responds to the issues of power, love, and conflict in the context of home. A highly emotional and psychological notion, the home is conventionally understood as a place of refuge and recluse. The definition is not limited to a physical space, but has much to do with lived experiences. To be entitled to privacy and to feel secure are related to a sense of control over one’s environment. The ideal shelter, in both its interior and exterior, provides the love and comfort.
However, variations in this description do exist. Home can be transient, broken, and/or distressing. Our relationships to the location, the structure, the possessions and the experiences, shape our perception of home.
Inspired by Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space, I developed a cultural probe to collect information about the different attachments people have of “home”. Borrowing from the practices of word association, six individuals from various demographics and living situations were given a set of instructions. Participants were asked to (1) conduct the assignment in their self-defined homes, (2) take a photograph in response to a list of provided stimulus words, (3) work with their initial responses, and that (4) photographing repeated spaces are acceptable.
"Spaces" is most stimulating as a process and a study of space. The collected images reflect the individual’s ideas of home, family, and self-identity. Consequently they represent diversity in the idea of home.

What kind of communication approach do you use?

My submission and recent body of work have developed largely through the methodologies I have applied. Working with anthropologic and ethnographic interests, my methodologies rely heavily on participation and collaboration. My involvement as a designer/ethnographer/facilitator is to instruct, to gather and to present the harvested data. The familiarity of home lends itself easily to this mode of operation. Given its emotional and psychological nature, the definition of home is highly subjective.
As a comparative ethnographic study, the application of a poster is chosen for its honesty and immediacy as all the information is revealed to the viewer. An image of the supplied instructional booklet gives context to how the “responsive photographs” have been collected. The grid arranges the images so they may be “read” in two sequences: by row (series belonging to a single individual participant) or by column (a series of all the participant’s associations with the word). The most beneficial aspect of the project would be the presentation of the primary research as the artifact itself. Curating the responsive photographs to construct a falsified narrative is not the intention. The presentation is an honest display of various definitions of “home”. Certain objects proved to have strong associations with home, as seen with the bed, bookcase, and toiletries, photographs and living plants. Purposefully left inconclusive, the reader plays an active role in deciphering the connections between the stimulus words, the responses and themselves.

What are in your opinion concrete benefits to the society because of your communication?

My submission draws attention to the overlooked and underappreciated domestic environment. Ideas of home are reinforced in our everyday vernacular, but are usually at the risk of appearing kitschy. My submission examines the rapport between space and identification. It reintroduces the home as a rich environment to learn about interactions and attachments. Ultimately, the project’s worth is in the participatory aspect. The process of collecting primary research was most important. Allowing the communication design speak to people about people reiterates humane aspect of design.

What did you personally learn from creating your submitted work?

The issues of love, conflict and power are ingrained not only in the notion of home but also in the role of the designer. Relinquishing control of data—in this case, the returns from the cultural probes—and working without an idea of the end deliverable was a process that was drastically different from conventional ideas of visual communication.
In my design education, I was taught that, as designers, our skills and knowledge sanctioned our decisions superior. Preoccupied with aesthetics and style, the concept and message may be neglected. It is easy to forget that design is about communication and not about self-indulgence. "Spaces" was an important reminder of the humanity in communication design.

Why is your work, GOOD communication WORK?

Good communicative work is most effective when no explanation is needed. The work is efficient in relaying a message that rewards the user for its time and attention. I believe "Spaces" is an example of good communication because of its ability to discuss a complex relationship through simplicity and clarity. It celebrates the design as a collaborative process from facilitators, participants, to receivers. It presents the home as an umbrella of interpretations with multiple meanings and no incorrect answers.

Where and how do you intent do implement your work?

"Spaces" is in part of an exploratory body of work that investigates the different facets of “home”. Taking the form of print, screen, audio, objects, and (simply put) ideas, these pieces have developed from a labour of love and attention to the interactions between human beings. Without intentions for commercial gains, I hope the work rejuvenates a new found curiosity in how we archive, communicate, function, and operate within the places we call home.

Did your intervention had an effect on other Media. If yes, describe the effect? (Has other media reported on it- how? Were you able to change other media with your work- how?)

Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

This is potentially an interesting project as a deconstruction of the concept of "home", an exploration of its different components and an attempt to go away from a classical "definition to a physical space".
We feel at end there is a little gap between the claim (description of the project) and the outcome. This gap might come from the process itself (collaborative/curatoring) and from the fact the this project is/might be in is early development phase?
The first impression of the outcome feels quite sad. Most likely this is related to the fact that no-body is to see on the photos (is it a decision you made?) but also that the objects or the spaces shown on the photos have a low social representation character (maybe some of them like kitchen situation, family photos, … but just few).
All together at this step of the project it give a bit the feeling of flipping through a random selection of flickr after typing "home, inside, without people". Somehow the photos dont really show this diversity form of "home", you were looking for; especially because they more or less all represent a "classical" inside view of flats and houses.
We dont know if this is coming from a misunderstanding/miscommunication between you and the "collaborators" but a representation of what you are saying a "home" "not limited to a physical space, but has much to do with lived experiences" is not really to see here.
The idea of a wall poster for the visualization of the project can be interesting by is physical component and a felling from general overview to closer "relationship" but it seems like that the photos get lost maybe another visualization can also be interesting, but also maybe combinations of word/image, …
As said all together a interesting idea which could be pushed further, with more diversity of photos, words and maybe a rework of the medium. The Idea is strong.

View other works commented by Sandy Kaltenborn  ››

I found this work interesting to follow. The method of collecting the photographs, giving key words to participants, asking them to document a very personal environment, has produced an understanding of the subject on a different level than an individual could attain.

Unfortunately i found the presentation hard work, almost as if this should have been the first stage in the process (maybe it is?) and developments were needed in the words chosen, currently they feel very leading and some of the photographs did not seem to relate, a hard line to balance, especially when relying on others input.

The design of the outcome could also develop alot further, as the reading of images up and across sometimes added and sometime diminished the experience.

Although this work is successful in its openness of outcome, leaving much to the audience to fill in, I struggled to find out exactly what the producer wanted to communicate themselves and it is not clear if the outcome represents the direction initially undertaken. I presume the lack of any human form in the images was a deliberate request, which leaves a strange atmosphere over the work.

You talk about 'the overlooked and under appreciated domestic environment' which i find an interesting theme to explore but i felt that if this project was to be successful it needed more direction from the producer to the participants to focus the possible readings that emerge.

View other works commented by Tony Credland  ››

I'm drawn to the typological approach here – while any system of categories used (as you call it) as a probe is already a guided interpretation, almost an a priori condition placed before your participants, I still see the worth of this as a first step in a larger project. Bachelard is far from the quantitative in his approach to understanding human habitation as a a physical and psychological practice and I'm mindful that your structural approach here communicates the formal order of something quantified and almost metric.

All form communicates both in implied and actual manifestation – while this works to your advantage within the loose quality of the images lending them an honest integrity, it works against an immediate acceptance of the grid as an organizing structure; perhaps some other form of presentation? A visual essay? A serial work of some kind?

The overall intent is much more than worthwhile, I'd say its a necessary part of contemporary design practice – the investigation of the methods and means by which we, as people and designers, make and find significance and meaning in our surroundings.

View other works commented by Roderick Grant  ››

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Curators comments

This work has been commented by 3 curator(s):
Sandy Kaltenborn Tony Credland Roderick Grant go to comments ›

Entry details




Examination of power, love, and conflict in the context of the home

Concept author(s)

Jessica Leong

Concept author year(s) of birth


Concept author(s) contribution

Concept research and development; execution and design;




Jessica Leong

Designer(s) year(s) of birth


Copy author(s)

Gaston Bachelard

Copy author(s) year(s) of birth


Copy author(s) contribution

French philosopher who wrote the Poetics of Space. Citing for quotation: Bachelard, Gaston. Poetics of Space. New York: Beacon Press, 1994. (17)

Competition category

visual communication practice

Competition subcategory


Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

OCAD University/Faculty of Design/ Graphic Design/