Life Span Mapping: Human-Centered Design Practices in the Arctic

Melanie Sarantou, Daria Akimenko

Tutkimustuotokset: KonferenssiesitysAbstraktiTieteellinen


Positive emotions stimulate social and emotional wellbeing and personal growth (Um, Plass, Hayward & Homer, 2012). Human-centered approaches that employ ethnography and participatory design are referred to as human-centered design practices that inspire and guide participants to reflect on their own lives, with the aim to stimulate alternative strategies and ideas for their futures (Friedland & Yamauchi, 2011). This paper disseminates an art-based process that was used in Arctic Murmansk to facilitate life span mapping, a tool deriving from life span psychology and based on a model that identifies and discusses triggers, modes, contexts, moderators, functions, and outcomes (Webster, Bohlmeijer and Westerhof, 2010). This human-cantered design practice and process for reflection on life changes and future strategies involves the painting of Life Story Mandalas that represent a participant’s life story or a section thereof (Miettinen, Sarantou & Akimenko, 2016). Storytelling is used to process the expressions, content and symbolisms that were consciously and perhaps subconsciously portrayed in these artefacts, while collective empathy is created through verbalising the stories. The methodology used in the case study is art-based approaches, storytelling, documentation and narrative analysis. Art-based methods have the potential to address subtle nuances such as difference, politics of gender and identity, power and justice that are often overlooked by other approaches. These nuances emerge when participants have the opportunity to express their personal narratives and lived experiences in art-making. The advantage of art-based methods lies in their strong focus on ‘visualisation’ that is more democratic and inclusive, while common mapping techniques used in these methods strengthen their communal focus (Mohan and Stokke 2000). With a strong focus on reflexivity that comes about through storytelling, participants piece together their experiences into life stories that make sense to them, and through critical reflection on the world, art becomes an interruptive practice (Savin-Baden and Major 2013; Baden and Wimpenny 2014). New meanings are expressed and often discovered as artworks and stories have the potential to challenge and transform. The purpose of life span mapping is to overcome changes in lifecycles and coping with lived experiences and change, through making and reflection, in often hostile remote Arctic environments.
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