way from home: Sejojo's walk
mediaposted on 20.07.2018, 01:46 by Misha Myers
This video is a walk through of the digital storytelling platform way from home conceived by Misha Myers as part of a wider research project exploring spatial narratives of refugee transnational home-building through walking-based locative media arts practices. The platform was technically designed with Dan Harris and Adam Childs in partnership with Refugees First and funded by Performance Research Journal and an AOL Innovation in the Community Award.
The method used to generate the narratives presented in the platform involved a set of instructions authored by Myers, which invited refugee and asylum seeker participants across the UK to take a walk with someone. The walking partners sometimes included public officials, such as policemen, social workers, housing officials or local council members. These different audiences or participants were sought out to set up points of access for refugees and asylum seekers and to offer the partners opportunities to understand the reality of their experience from their perspective.
The instructions for the walk invited the walker-participant to create an impromptu hand-drawn sketch map of a route from a place they considered home to a special place with significant landmarks marked along the way. Using their map of another remembered place as a guide, they then took their partner on a self-directed and improvised walk elsewhere. The route taken in the present was discovered as the walker made choices about scale and direction based on the memory of a route taken in the past. As they walked, they looked for landmarks in the present environment that coincided with the remembered landmarks of their map and transposed and re-named these onto their map. These landmarks, the process of searching for them and mapping them, became a stimulus for a conversation between the walker and their partner. These walks were led in various cities and towns in the UK, which are designated dispersal areas for asylum seekers and refugees (ASRs) – Plymouth, Loughborough, Nottingham, Leicester, and Derby. Overall, around 150 people were invited to take part in the walks through refugee support and community arts organisations. Participants included Congolese, Kurds, Iranian, Romani refugees, asylum seekers and migrants and public officials in Plymouth; young Iraqi Kurds and Afghanis in Loughborough; Somali, Congolese and Zimbabwean refugees from Leicester; Congolese, Iraqis, Kurds and Iranians from Derby; and Zimbabwean, Eritrean, Iraqis and Congolese in Nottingham.
Five walks from Plymouth were included in the original digital platform. This video presents one of these walks. The original design specifications for the platform aimed to create a digital representation that would be as close to the walker’s unique sketch map as possible and to augment this map with the add-on features of the audio, animated video of the route and photo images taken of landmarks found along the way to present how it had evolved and developed through the walk and to bring the map to life through a process integrating story-telling and wayfinding. This digitisation across multiple media channels, a form of transmedia storytelling, allowed the walker’s story to be experienced and activated in a lively way.
The platform was originally published in 2004 at http://www.wayfromhome.org.
Performance Research Journal, AOL Innovation in the Community Award