The photographic exploration of a place involves a close attention to both the environment and the individual perceptions and experiences of the photographer. Photography helps to see the most familiar things with a new eye and to articulate subjective views, feelings or impressions.
In participatory photography projects, members of a social group or a community use photography to observe, explore and document places, issues and themselves in their own environment over a certain amount of time. How is a place changing? How do I see myself and my identity in relation to an environment? What do I like/dislike about my neighborhood? What should be changed?
In this creative process, participants learn how to translate their experiences and thoughts into images. Afterwards, the photographs are discussed and analyzed by the group and may also be published or exhibited to tell stories and share knowledge.
Walking is an immersive and multisensory form of bodily movement. While we walk, our bodies engage with the surrounding space and we intimately sense, perceive and think a place. Exploring our environment on foot helps us to find out how we and our bodies relate to a place and how it feels to be in that place.
A shared walk means simply to walk together in small groups or in pairs to explore certain characteristics of public space which we usually overlook while rushing from A to B in everyday life. A shared walk may be dedicated to a wide range of topics, for example: How does a place smells or sounds? What is allowed or forbidden? Am I under surveillance? Do I feel comfortable where I walk?
During the walk, participants collect impressions and observations in public space. Those experiences are recorded by the participants with the help of short written notes, sketches, maps and photographs. After the walk, the participants share and analyze their experiences within the group.
Participatory photo projects and shared walks are tools for knowledge production and may be combined with other methods such as (photo)interviews or group discussions and with the creation of visual outcomes like exhibitions, maps or digital publications.
Since the activities of The Space Lab cross the boundaries of artistic practice, research and education, the collaborative exploration of spatial environments may be situated within various contexts:
cultural and arts education
(counter) narratives of places
The Space Lab is run by artist, researcher and educator Dr. Sandra Köstler and is always open for new collaborations. All projects are carefully developed to meet the needs and objectives of the participating people and groups.
Sandra is also available for short-term photography workshops and trainings in how to run participatory photo projects.
If you are interested in the activities of The Space Lab, please get in touch for further information: contact (at) sandrakoestler.de