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As part of the the CCA’s Our Neighbourhood series, I facilitated an experimental design workshop in the CCA Derry-Londonderry in May, 2015. Following a presentation, participants engaged in an exercise devised to facilitate the development of new perceptions and generate empathy.

Exercise 1

-This is a new tool designed to facilitate a first tentative step into seeing other, often familiar, animals in a new way. It investigates Deluezian ‘lines of becoming’ or ‘lines of flight’, along which all life flows. By the simple act of recording your own line of trajectory and those of other animals sensed while wandering, you can create what Tim Ingold describes as a ‘meshwork’, upon whose thread-lines the conditions of possibility are laid down.

This exercise is a device for observation and the result is a representation of the participant’s experience of other animals in a particular time and place; a first step in recognising the greater ecology of selves.-

Below is the instructional text and a selection of the meshworks generated by the participants along a section of the city wall

Lines of flight – line of becoming – Meshworks

    “…to create the conditions for new thoughts”

                                                         Marilyn Strathan 1988

To develop new empathy, we need first to see in a new way, a way that recognises our place and movements in relation to the other beings in our shared world, a way beyond language.

The following exercise is a simple device for observation and not just of others but of ourselves with them; a first step in recognising the greater ecology of selves.

Taking a map of a small area, for our purposes we used a Google map image, and placing a piece of trace paper over it, begin to wander in the area.

There is no defined path or direction.

When you encounter a bird, trace with a line your steps as you perceive them and then the line of trajectory of the bird, or birds, as you saw them on the paper.

Continue to walk and when you encounter other birds, repeat the process.

If you hear a bird, draw a small spiral or circle on the location where you think you heard them.

Continue for as long as you wish, with or without the map.

Importantly, there is no predicted or correct outcome from this process.

The result  is an image of a unique meshwork, a representation of your experience of other beings, a series of moments in time; how you perceived that movement in relation to your own.

It is a mapping of the world “becoming rather than being”.

Exercise 2

A semiotic empathy map which although untested on the day due to time pressure, did garner some interest from Toots.


Our Neighbourhood – Workshop