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Arts Gymnasium – Dancing the Data

Author: Katherine Wimpenny   27th June 2017

Katherine Winpenny, Research Lead, Arts Gymnasium

In Bristol, 19–23 Jun 2017, Sarah Merry, DMLL, Eline Kieft, C-DaRE , Koula Charitonos, Open University, and myself, presented a research paper about our work on the Arts Gymnasium, as a performance piece at the Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference and Exchange,

We presented our research process as a bricolage, using a collaged variety of research tools, analytical frames, and multiple theories enabling us to broaden and deepen conversations and raise further questions.

Whilst I have used poetry, film and images previously in my research practice, working with Dr Eline Kieft to ‘dance the data’ was very exciting; a carefully considered art form used to share that which is often difficult to express in words alone; an intertextual form of (re)presentation, drawing on work by Bagley and Cancienne, 2012. In this performance piece, we were able to recast aspects of ‘knowing and experience’ metaphorically in our interpretation of the data to share our means of expressing the participants’ sense of self in the world.

The intention in this work is to engage with the audience, to be provocative, to evoke, disrupt, re-examine and extend personal meanings about data interpretation and what we can know and comprehend when trying to explore the complexity of human experience. And, I have learnt again during this process how the art form influences the research and the research influences the art form. As Sullivan shares, “the tangible means that give form to imaginative thought” (Sullivan 2006, 31).

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