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Messages in a Bottle: a CreaTures experiment

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Messages in a Bottle is an experiment based on the CreaTures project corresponding to the project’s Task Open Creative Practices Training Guidelines. The task calls for an accessible guide for current and future creative practitioners aspiring to pursue transformative practices to make effective uses of the project’s key research outcomes.

You can watch the entire experiment at creaturesmessages.org.

So we asked the following researchers in the CreaTures project how they think creative practitioners could make the best use of their key research outcomes. Below are the links to the video recordings of their responses:

Messages in a Bottle

To create such a learning space, we devised the following two overall objectives:

  • To amplify the voices of creative practitioners, which often hold limited authority in how transformative creative practices are understood, valued, and supported through policy and other related systems and strategies 
  • To provide a collective space to share diverse authentic, experiential, and practice-based learning in accessible and engaging ways for peers and the wider audiences

To achieve these, we decided that:

  • The learnings must not be didactic and instead be guided by the direct voices of current transformative creative practitioners reflecting on their own experiences, as well as the learnings from the CreaTures project and related literature; 
  • The space coalescing these should appeal to the broader audiences, especially those who are currently engaged in or aspiring to engage with transformative creative practices in the future.

 

Watch a summary of some of the interviews of ‘Messages in a Bottle: a CreaTures experiment’.

OCP Training Guidelines

These led to the reframing of the OCP Training Guidelines, which became the Messages in A Bottle, an online platform that presents a collection of key learnings and experiences of current transformative creative practitioners in the form of short messages; connects each of them with some of the critical research insights from the CreaTures project and beyond, and; provides an avenue for other practitioners to contribute and share their learnings. 

We also decided to use the metaphor of “Messages in A Bottle” as it can be useful for communicating complex ideas in a more relatable manner and making the project easy to remember. The idea of sending messages in a bottle suggests that these practitioners are sending their knowledge and wisdom out into the world, in the hope that it will be found and used by others. The publication of these messages can be seen as a way of sharing learnings with and providing guidance to other practitioners who are interested in pursuing transformative practices. The metaphor can usefully remind creative practitioners of the value of sharing their work, experiences, and insights with others living in different places and temporalities, while encouraging the audience to engage with the ritual of opening and reading the messages, and remember them in ways that are meaningful for them.

CreaTures Festival - June 2022, Seville. Pic by Julio Albarrán
CreaTures Festival – June 2022, Seville. Pic by Julio Albarrán

So this is what we did

We invited the creative practitioners who directly contributed to – e.g. by showcasing their work, giving a keynote speech, and working as part of the ground staff – and participated in the CreaTures Festival for an individual face-to-face interview, taking advantage of the shared understanding and experience of the project and the festival as the project’s principal engagement “experimental production,” which brought together the project’s various insights, experiences, and outcomes.

In line with the core methodological approach of the CreaTures favouring transdisciplinary, experimental methodologies, we asked the participants to complete a creative pre-interview activity: each to create a hand-written message for future creative practitioners, which was then to be kept in a physical bottle (see Contribute page for the instructions)

Each interview lasted between 30 and 45 minutes and was video-recorded at a place of the participant’s preference. It started with the participant sharing their response to the creative activity, followed by three key questions concerning their current creative practice; journey that has led to their current position, and; CreaTures Festival experience. 

All recordings, including one interview conducted in Spanish, were transcribed in full and reviewed by four researchers to identify the crucial learnings, related CreaTures Dimensions; Creative Pathways, and; CreaTures Resources. In addition, emergent themes from each interview were identified, leading to a total of 34 themes across all interviews. The second review of full interview transcripts guided a comparative analysis of these 34 themes, through which they were revised and their total number was reduced to 10, each with two to three related themes. Informed by the review of literature, the final themes were further interrogated and expanded to result in the Ten Learnings, each corresponding to the ten key themes respectively. Finally, through this winding journey, Messages in A Bottle came to life.