Week 2: 22nd-26th Feb 2016

After a rather chaotic weekend moving boxes and placing books into shelves- I have commenced reading and mind mapping. The wall space is full with different themes overlapping highlighting synergies and interdependence.

The book Kaplan S. and Kaplan R. (1982) Cognition and Environment – functioning in an uncertain world, New York. is useful. Some highlights:

  • Humans are so proficient at separating an object from its surroundings that it may be hard to comprehend that this is a problem. Not only we take apart the pattern of stimulation into the important thing plus all the rest, we often eliminate the rest so effectively that we no longer realisze it is there.
  • Understanding the environmental cognition requires a prior understanding of environmental perception. P.17


Space perception

Part of the complexity of the perceptual process arises from the necessity of dealing with two quite different problems. On the one hand, one must have some way of dealing with objects, of recognising those vital packages of stimulation that appears again and again, in one form or another, in our environment. On the other hand, one must be able to deal with the remainder of the scene- that is, the background, the larger picture that surrounds these objects.

Humans rely heavily on visual perception (Posner, 1978; Posner and Rothbart, 1980; Rock and Harris, 1967) and, in fact, use visual imagery in many instances that are not actually visual (Freides, !974). p.18

Being able to identify objects by smell, touch, taste and sound is often critical. At the same time, knowing the object without being able to preserve information about location would be quite unsatisfactory. P.18

The closer related and detailed objects are the better comprehension of the scene. It starts basic and builds up with time. The nature of things is not important, more though the location.

Factors of perception p.35

1.simplicity – information that has low reliability is discarded.

2.essence – a single prototype stands for many different instances.

3.disceteness – the elimination of continuity eliminates a great deal of information concerning what is “between” one thing and another

4.unity – Economy of experience – once a sense of unity exists, one needs fewer encounters with place to learn about it and understand it.

Comprehending patterns in space places essentially identical requirements on cognitive structure.

Connectedness is an ancient topic as far as psychology is concerned (see Voss, 1969). It dates back to Aristotle, and it has received very little attention until recent times.

With respect to creative research practice and in respect to the course work: a exhibition, urban intervention may be an appropriate instrument.

The words of Josef Albers come to mind:

“Designing is:
Planning, organising, arranging,
compare and control.
In a word: it includes
all means that are the opposite
of disorder
 and randomness.
Therefore, it corresponds to a human
and qualified human
 and doing.”

Reflecting on the philosophical theories discourse reading cognitive mapping ranges from Kaplan to Lynch. They made me revisit the concept of Gibsons “affordance” in relation to play. Linking cognitive mapping of children and adults in different neighbourhoods and cultures on the subject play. Lynch method in “The image of the city” seemed reasonable as a method base.

However, after research for papers on spatial knowledge in different urban areas, it seemed that there has been a substantial effort during the 1960 to 1980. Lynch (1960), Golledge (1999) and Hillier (2012) link urban form to cognitive mapping and conclude that “the more central the place of residence, the more gradual, continuous and complete is the cognitive mapping. Focus is placed often on recognition of landmark, edges, nodes, district, location, paths and areas rather than asking explicitly for play.

Based on KIDSMAP and Spielleitplanung initiatives some finding explored outdoor play to parental concerns on safety and changing nature of childhood. It seems that there is sufficient empirical as well as qualitative data on the subject matter. I am asking myself now, what are may be most beneficial in generating new knowledge/ perspectives that help driving outcomes in the “real world”.

The idea of my add value approach to research generating new knowledge and/ or a new perspective on the subject matter may be one of the following:

What do I want to research:

  • Play in urban environments
  • healthy neighbourhood design
  • cross culture behaviour analysis and change

What might be the a hypothesis:

  • that play matters in healthy neighbourhood design.
    Does play matters in designing healthy neighbourhoods? –> eliminated as it to simple Yes/No answer
  • that active child play is a key indicator for healthy neighbourhood design.
    Is active child play an key indicator for healthy neighbourhood design? –> eliminated as it to simple Yes/No answer
  • that cognitive mapping of play can help to achieve healthier neighbourhoods.
    How can cognitive mapping of active play achieve healthier neighbourhoods? –> would go quickly too far into psychology.
  • that professional planners/ designers need to consider cognitive neighbourhood mapping on play as a indicator for good neighbourhood planning.
    Should professional planner/ designer consider cognitive neighbourhood mapping of active play  as an indicator for good neighbourhood planning? –> would go quickly too far into psychology.
  • that play across different cultures matter and can inform healthier urban design outcomes.
    To what degree does play across different cultures matter when it comes to inform better health outcomes in neighbourhoods?
  • that the collective adult behaviour impacts access to play and therefore shapes the state of health in a neighbourhood.
    Can the collective adult behaviour impact access to play and as a result shape the state of health in a neighbourhood?
  • that adult behaviour across different cultures on allowing access to play is critical to healthy neighbourhoods.
    As for the success of a healthy neighbourhood –  is adult behaviour across different cultures critical when it comes to restriction on access to play spaces?

Delimitation in the field:

Theoretical discourse on epistemological approach:

Generating knowledge through constructionism based on Crotty (1998:5). Why and how does this related to my research? Concepts, ideas, and language shape how we think about the social world. Constructionism allows for interpretivism as part of the theoretical perspective in social research. Capturing human behaviour and perspective of active play in the urban context through different methods will be useful in constructing a framework that will allow me to compare the cognitive state of play in different neighbourhoods in different societies.

Education through art (exhibition) will allow me share research findings to a wider public audience, policy makers and people in the community. The generation of new knowledge will be a natural result of the case study approach.

I will be looking at three or four different case studies, investigating play behaviour in the areas and search for facts why or why not active play is happening and why it changed. Observation, drawings, pictures, interviews (participant and non participant) and cognitive mapping tools may be the best way to capture required data.

Reflect on yourself:
I need to be aware of my preconceived ideas and images of the current state of play in different cultures. Letting go of acquired knowledge and being open to new ways of thinking on the subject matter in case study areas may be an interesting experience. Stepping back from the idea of knowing the answer. Reading literature widely helps to generate new ideas and potential angles for the research. However, it is confusing at the same time. Search for similar approaches has not been successful at this point in time. Narrowing the topic down will become a challenge in itself.

Tool development, or methodologies, to take on the project:

Practice based research design

Potential  methods:
research for practice: reading/ observing, field research, lit.review, interviews
research into practice: sketching; note-taking; photography, videos
research through practice: diary (blog), evaluation (before/after) exhibition

Creation of a library in Endnote for literature review.
Questionnaire development in different languages.
Editing work.
Following intuitive  pathways in experience based knowledge with respect to case study areas.

Interpretation and dissemination:

  • literature review
  • documentation (papers)
  • performance/ art
  • exhibition (physical as well as online)

More untangling will follow.