This week, I presented what I have done so far for Module 201 to my peers. I talked about how I had originally wanted to collect feedback from a number of different audiences, how I went about doing that and talked about the Invisible Letters project and what has been done with that so far.
Along with a copy of “Sick Days” which I made at the beginning of the project, I handed out a mock up of an image I had created for one of the letters, with said letter on the same page. I did find this quite uncomfortable, as I was sharing a mock up of someone else’s words, knowing I wasn’t fully happy with it, but I wanted feedback on how it could improve and was ready for criticism.
My plan for this project was to create a single publication, with all the letters within it. Each letter would have a few pages each, with one or two illustrations to sit along side it. It wasn’t working and I couldn’t yet figure out why. My colleagues felt that compared to “Sick Days”, which has flashes of images and short pieces of text, it is more digestible, which the letter is lacking. The text within the letter is extremely raw, and having this squeezed together with a single illustration is not as inviting, if anything it could be off putting.
This is definitely not what I want. I have been so stuck on the format, I was blinkered as to the power of the content of the letters I have received. My peers suggested that breaking the text up into a sequential piece like I did in my first zines, allows for more natural breathing room, space to digest the content, and I don’t have to encompass a whole manner of emotions into a single illustration. I had set upon the format before getting the content, which on reflection was not sensible. I think I was set on having something finished for this module that I wanted it to be manageable within that time limit. Now I have that notion out of my head, I am open to expanding this project; these letters need to be publications of their own.
The notion of invisibility is powerful as it brings together lots of different experiences, in this instance all about health. This is an important part in a political sense, has I want to make the invisible visible and recognise the diversity and similarities in peoples experiences.
One of the issues I’m having is the letters are quite raw, which is to be expected from writers that may feel marginalised, isolated and not listened to. This is the nature of that kind of experience. What I need is to have a formal distancing quality, so I can create a bridge that people can engage with, whilst being considerate of my own health.
It was suggested, and I totally agree, that I need a clear manifesto. This will be sent to participants and will be something to reference in case I come across any issues during the project’s progress. Because anonymity is a big ethical issue within this project, authorship needs to be clear. Because some people have volunteered their names, where as others have chosen to remain anonymous, it needs to be clear how he work will be attributed.
Because I have an illness myself, I need to keep myself flexible, to not restrict myself to tight deadlines, and make the participants aware of this. I also need to say that there is a possibility that I may not be able to illustrate their letters. I do not want to create work for the sake of it; if I don;t feel I can illustrate the content, I shouldn’t. Also, I need to make it clear that their contribution is going to be treated sensitively and that they can retract from the project at any time.
So what I will do now is write a manifesto to send to particpants, making these issues clear and ask for a response to see whether they are happy with continuing with the project.