Research Interests

Having thought about the areas that I’m interested in, I’ve been developing ideas for my specific research interest which I’ll work on for the duration of my MA. This has been real challenge – essentially what we are trying to do by way of MA study is identify a problem and then develop a solution using our knowledge of design and creative skills. So far, I have come up with the following possibilities for further research…

1) Interactive tools for education

In light of reports which query levels of child literacy/attention to school work, and also those which suggest that children spend too much time playing on, or using, computers; How can interactive products be developed to allow one of these problems to be tackled using the other?

My main interest here is with looking into how well books are received by children and how they could be studied in other ways. The idea I am most interested in is that of an interactive experience which could be developed for the new interactive whiteboards which have been implemented in many schools in the UK over the past few years. Research could be conducted into their flexibility as an educational tool and how they could be used to create some sort of group or class participation experience in which the narrative, characters, key themes and ideas, within a book could be explored interactively using graphics/video/animation. I believe there may also be potential for exhibition scale experiences to be created in order to encourage children to engage and interact more with books.

In addition to the main focus of the research, I think that within this idea, study could also be conducted into how interactive products can be developed further than the usual CD-ROM or website, to educate and inspire, and what the most effective ways of learning are in relation to graphical and interactive products.

2) Visual music

One of my greatest interests, personally, is music, I get a great deal of enjoyment out of listening to music, discovering new music and going to see concerts and live performances of all styles and genres.

By its nature, music is very much an art form which, conventionally, only appeals to one sense; hearing. As such I am interested in how, if at all, music can be ‘heard’ in other ways by people who physically cannot hear. Is it possible to develop visual interpretations of songs that a deaf person can watch in order to try to experience music in an alternative way?

Additionally, I am interested in the way that contemporary musicians use graphics, video and animation to contextualise and enhance their work whilst performing – I think that, as musical styles have developed, the environments in which we go to see live music have also developed significantly. I believe that there are also questions that need to be asked about the way in which artist performing newer styles of music, in particular electronic music, present themselves on a stage. – If we consider the live stage presence and scale of an orchestra compared with that of a DJ or Producer who may work alone, it is common for a smaller presence on stage to be illustrated or ‘livened’ by banners, videos or animations, possibly to increase the sense of presence.

This idea also asks the question of whether graphical interpretations should be generated by the music itself, as a result of the practitioner developing a programme which interprets sounds by generating images, or whether the practitioner physically creates a visual animation or image which they believe to be a representation of the sound heard.

3) Research and development of CCBT

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy available for people who suffer symptoms of depression and/or anxiety – it’s most effective application is through one to one therapy though, due to cost, waiting times and various other factors, the use of CBT in the UK seems to have had a limited uptake, though a computerised form has been developed, Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT).

From my current understanding, feelings towards CCBT are extremely varied among a wide range of people who are both concerned with the use of CBT/CCBT, and those who are treated with CBT/CCBT. In the past I have had the opportunity to discuss this issue with both those who work in the field of Psychology and those who have either tried, or been offered CCBT as a form of treatment and there are mixed responses about its effectiveness. I get the impression that, overall, the fundamental factor which influences success or failure of the treatment is largely dependant on one to one human contact.

If it is the case that, in future, CCBT is likely to be promoted more than CBT as a form of treatment, due to cost effectiveness, or for other reasons, how can this solution be developed to its full potential?

My particular interest in this area is in the use of interface and visual applications to provide treatment. In the initial stages of research, I am interested to find out and/or try out: firstly, what CCBT programmes look like on screen and how effectively they deal with the sensitivity of this type of treatment. Secondly, how could CCBT applications be developed, if possible, in close collaboration with psychologists/specialist to be much more effective?

I believe this idea offers research possibilities in human-computer interface, and how considerate and compassionate graphic and interactive design can be developed. How can more effective programmes be developed to encouraged people to feel less cynical about the idea of a computer programme or website treating them for a condition or illness?

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