Diffractive Analysis: Embodied Encounters in Contemporary Artistic Video Practice

Amba Sayal-Bennett

This is a really useful paper for methodology and methods.

The Bibliography at the end is useful guidance for the future:


Book Seminar – Innovative research methods in the early years: beyond the conventional


-WOW!Super helpful resource: ‘DOING FIELDWORK IN A PANDEMIC’-


This is a REALLY helpful and well-organised document with LOADS of methods and tips for doing fieldwork in the context of Covid-19.

It’s a google.doc that various people have contributed to, so in a way it’s crowdsourced…and I had nearly lost faith in humans… we can do good after all! Here are the details:

The Table of Contents – gives an idea of the amount of tips and tools 🙂

Lupton, D. (editor) (2020) Doing fieldwork in a pandemic (crowd-sourced document). Available at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1clGjGABB2h2qbduTgfqribHmog9B6P0NvMgVuiHZCl8/edit?ts=5e88ae0a#

Isolation measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 means that social researchers who have for doing fieldwork in a pandemic – specifically, ideas for avoiding in-person interactions by using mediated forms that will achieve similar ends. 

Social research has been conducted online for many years, of course. There are many examples of using online survey tools or doing content analyses or ethnographies using existing online interactions as research materials. Interviews have been conducted by phone or Skype for a long time. This document was initially directed at ways for how to turn fieldwork that was initially planned as using face-to-face methods into a more ‘hands-off’ mode. However, people have added useful material about ‘born digital’ research (content already generated  on the internet by online interactions), which provides an alternative source of social research materials if researchers decide to go down that path.

This document is now closed. If you’d like to make a copy, go to the File menu and click-on “Make a copy’.

Suggested citation: 

Lupton, D. (editor) (2020) Doing fieldwork in a pandemic (crowd-sourced document). Available at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1clGjGABB2h2qbduTgfqribHmog9B6P0NvMgVuiHZCl8/edit?ts=5e88ae0a#

-Meeting Notes for Portfolio 1-

2ND Meeting

GE BM meeting 26.2.21

Joined ideas via social justice aims.

BM’s background in Sociology and Education as student

BM’s research = decolonise History curriculum

Participants= trainee black teachers who have both studied and now hope to teach GCSE history.

Methodology = Using Co-production

Summary of this research = Examines how colonial ideas have been perpetuated in the GCSE curriculum via discussing teachers’ own experiences of studying it and now their experiences of teaching it to students.

GE’s Research

GE’s professional background = teaching English and running Media and Film department in secondary education

Research sits Broadly in education but intersects with Disability Studies, Film and Media

research concerns those with ADHD and their experiences of mainstream schools/classrooms

Research seeks to foreground these previously unheard voices and facilitate a more inclusive environment and more inclusive pedagogies whose ways of knowing are ‘different’ .

Method= using filmmaking in co-production with teachers and students

Discussed how our projects overlap by the fact they are social justice

BM is focussing on Co-production

Co-production (See BM’s notes)

GE- mentioned PAR methodologies and we discussed the embedded power imbalances.

Even when a researcher seeks to ‘empower’ the participant there is always going to be the undertone of teacher/student university researcher/ teacher power divide This was highlighted as a limitation seen in co-production generally. Researcher/researched dichotomy

The goal may be to ‘level it off’ this power imbalance

How GE proposes to use film-

Using film workshops/ film labs to include:

 filmmaking, film watching and sharing amongst teachers, students with ADHD and researcher

One rationale for using filmmaking with young people in this context is that this is to some extent giving something back to the research community in the form of hands-on practical training

Another rationale is that this is a more inclusive approach for capturing and sharing the experiences of young people as conventional forms of representation (written and spoken word in formal interviews or survey) present a barrier to young people who may not be able to fully represent the more elusive, abstract experiences of having ADHD through conventional forms like written language.

So a way to steer away from conventional and traditional forms of representation.

It’s a hands on and engaging way to engage teachers and students

Idea is to a open up a dialogue between the teachers and students through the medium of film

BM reflected on how moving away from written language is more inclusive for thos in the school. It is not trying to force something upon them it’s offering more freedom and not dictating how to do it.


Benefits of coproduction

  • Unlike most studies, Black participants are not positioned as deficient/deviant or problems to fix, but rather as experts of their own experience, change-agents, and curriculum policy-makers 
  • ” Co-production can enhance the effectiveness of research by making it better informed by communities‟ preferences and needs, with communities then contributing to improved outcomes and achievable solutions (Ostrom 1996).” 
  • Prospective teachers learn to notice how they can un/make curriculum through their experiences 
  • foster a more ethically reflexive approach to teaching in unknown futures 
  • By working with prospective Black teachers, the research has potential to impact progression and more broadly the education of young people for a more just future. 

  Challenges  

  • POWER  
  • critics question whether people can fully understand and estimate their own motivations and behaviour; or can engage in analytical thinking on a topic merely on the basis of experience  
    • Counter – providing an established and approved tool which they can adapt to account for race  
    • That the perspectives of communities can be so easily dismissed by positivist critics is indicative of the hidden power dynamics within the research process 

Limitations of filmmaking

One identified limitation – is that since the proliferation in IPhone use everyone is supposedly an expert in film making. This is not to say that TIKTOK etc are not great, it’s just that as GE’s research seeks to find ways of representing more abstract and elusive experiences a more ‘artistic’ approach might be required.  So training participants to use the camera and frame a shot, use colour, use lighting in order to create meaning in more metaphorical ways.

Another problematic of film with children is safeguarding- child protection  – there are ways to circumvent this – using animation and not showing the participant’s faces in recordings.

Have you seen it in other disciplines? In terms of co-production we talked about La Borde clinic that’s a example from psychology. A way to make research more democratic/just.

BM asked GE – have you seen co-production or film used in any other disciplines

GE mentioned in psychology filmmaking has been used to open up difficult conversations with hard to reach groups. GE discussed young men with depression group less inclined to open up about emotions

. Cinematherapy seems to be a ‘thing’  :

This paper:

Film Selection in a Cinematherapy Intervention With Preadolescents Experiencing Parental Divorce

by Emily Marsick



Publication year:




| No other editions or formats


  • Journal of Creativity in Mental Health 5, no. 4 (2010): 374-388

GE- pointed that the link to the La Borde clinic was interesting.

This was an attempt to democratise and although ideal did lead to some problems.

BM pointed to the paper she had shared via email as GE was interested to see if CRT approach of counter-story telling had ever been used with disabled persons.

Community-based arts research for people with learning disabilities: challenging misconceptionsabout learning disabilities

Michael Richards, Rebecca Lawthom & Katherine Runswick-Cole

Really good example of the overlap of social justice/co-production-film making empowerment.

How do we imagine t the benefits/ challenges of working beyond our boundaries might be – how might our overlaps be beneficial

Discussed our unifying idea of social justice amongst marginalised groupings in settings where their status is even more diminished (ADHD-CLASSROOM – BLACK TEACHERS IN SCHOOLS-PROGRESSION AND EXPEREINCES IN EDUCATION)

Discussed how black teachers in UK are underrepresented in leadership and teaching profession in general and their personal experiences as black individuals has been marginalised in profession and in curriculum content. A goal is to foreground these experiences and empower.

We discussed that our research really needs be a 2 way process – giving back through empowerment.

We reflected back to La Borde

GE wrote down ‘ THE GRID’. How could the grid be actualised as a framework in both our research??

In filmmaking it is could be realised in film roles e.g.

The cameraman moves to be the lighting person – there is a teaching approach called ‘Belbin’s group roles’ 

I am going to try and design this framework maybe.

Here’s some stuff on the grid:


~Reflecting on Data Analysis Task~

Task Review and Reflection:

The task for today was to try one of the three methods with a small bit of text based data say for example this could be a policy document an interview transcript. I elected to use three different types of data the first one was some tweets from an online support group for female adults with ADHD. The next one was a Guardian newspaper article which was a personal account of a female’s experience of ADHD.The final piece of text was a transcript from the how to ADHD YouTube channel. In the time given I only really had time to grapple with the Tweets. This is something to be mindful of in the future given that I tend to be overly ambitious. For a task like this it may have been more useful to use less data and spend more time in the immersion in this data.

Time Limits:

We only had 30 minutes to do this task which was in itself they challenge but the goal was to experiment and then reflect on these three methods and then we were able to critically discuss them their advantages where they might work well and where and when they might not be so successful.

One example offered was one researcher in the group used a school Ofsted report and applied critical discourse analysis. Their comments afterwards showed that this did not have the desired creative and results. What might happen is that you just end up reproducing and repeating the discourses to not very productive or generative ends. My comment in the chat was that CDA would lend itself to more polemic writing . The other problems with this approach is that it is politically charged by nature and this would not be welcomed in some contexts. Another potential pitfall is that CDA has a problem in that if you ever wanted to use participant checking as a method of traigulation, the participants might not like to hear or indeed accept any perceived political undercurrents within their own discourses or utterences.

I used the thematic analysis model with this basic framework below: Taken from Braun and Clarke.

Reflections on Thematic Analysis:

This was an approach I was familiar with from last year. Last year I used a thematic analysis to analyse radio transcripts podcast transcripts on interview transcripts regarding in the topic of ADHD and barriers to learning .The approach is quite flexible but I found that it was particularly challenging today especially in terms of how time consuming it is and the fact that you really have to immerse yourself in the data. Last year during my Masters in Education I had constant re-visits to the data whereas today we had about 20 minutes.

How does one ‘UNTHINK’ previous encounters with data?

If I’m to reflect on my experience of today I would say that I found it quite hard to ‘unthink’ my themes and codes from last year . This is despite the fact that I was approaching a different research question. I kept looking for the familiar and it almost seems like a default was to find codes from previous data sets. The research question that I was asking was:

How is female ADHD constructed online ? Which on reflection is a really broad question and my data sets are quite limiting and I didn’t really have time to critically engage with them. This being said this is part of the pedagogical process i.e. to test things out see what works, what doesn’t work and reflect on it like I am doing here. I think next time I would like to experiment with IPA but I would have to carefully consider the data sets .This is because they’d have to be personal accounts or something to do with people’s lived experiences of a phenomen

-Focus Beats-

This post is more as a memo for me to remember how much easier doing work can be with noise cancelling headphones and some music.

I tend to go for more avant-garde stuff e.g. Aphex Twin, 808 State. Something loopy and percussive does the trick.

It really does help with focus and immersion… Once I get settled. The Focus Beats playlists on BBC iPlayer seem to put me in a trance.

I thanked ‘techno’ and the manufacturers of my noise cancelling headphones in my M.Ed thesis acjnowledgement.

I got a distinction so I guess it was a technique that worked!

-Teaching Update-

Over the past month I have been tutoring a younger student. This has made for a refreshing change from secondary teaching and a pleasant counterpoint to academia. Although saying this, I do enjoy both of the above…

We have gone back to basics and covered: Simple sentence construction;vocabulary expansion; using adverbs and adjectives within simple sentences to expand noun phrases and much more. Most recently we have been exploring narrative structure, using ‘story mountain’. The student interviewed my sister and nephew and created a book for my nephew based on his interests and preferences.

Below are some images of some of the activities we have done:

To the left: sequencing events in a story.
This reminded me about how significant colours are to children ar this age.

We have also been incoperating movement into each session. Using a shared teaching of stretches, dance poses and yoga movement. I will ‘demo’ a stretch or pose and the the student will do one. We tend to focus on animal poses. This has made for a welcome structure to our 3 hour sessions, but also reminded me as a practitioner about the importance of movement and embodied learning. On reflection, it has made me realise that just standing up and moving improves my focus.

I remember interviewing an SEN/D specialist in my MA and they were ‘not a fan’ of getting children to stand up and dance around just for the sake of it. I would say I tend to agree. If the movement serves no pedogogical advantage then it is perhaps not worthwhile. The movement needs to be either structured and part of a consistent routine, or subtly embeded within the lesson.

The 1:1 approach has also made me reflect on the significance of talking through the learning. In a classroom space with more children. Using each other as a sounding board is perhaps not available here.

~Design Museum~

We visited The Design Museum. This was my Christmas present. The exhibition was ‘Electronic – From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers. ‘

My personal highlights were 2 installments.

The first was the Aphex Twin videography section. This included the video for Collapse. This was inspired by scenes of Cornwall as seen by a hallucinating cyborg.

Another favorite was the I will Never Change. This was 960 vinyls in the shape of a Wave Form. You could listen to it and the lighting cast a shadow of the Wave Form.

“To animate the wave form, we built it and then carefully removed each individual record. This had to be done very gently as any shift in the position of the sculpture would result in the failure of the animation and as we had to literally destroy each piece of vinyl to get it off, there was only one chance to get it right. Once the sculpture was finally built, the animation process took about 30 hours.” There are some nice behind-the-scenes photos below as well, taken by Ben Jacobs.

~Mini Ethnography~

Location Shrewsbury Library

My forced comfort zone would be to conduct a planned and well-structured study with well articulated questions and a concrete set structure. This would merely be to ensure I did it ‘right’. This is not really my authentic way of working as I find intuition more preferable and this allows thinking to unfold in unexpected ways.

I had planned to visit the library but did not anticipate how much my morning reading would influence my perceptions of the encounters with objects-both inside and outside the building. I had just finished reading the journal article about the girls in the Welsh mining town and hence my thinking was very much attuned to a feminist frequency.

I used my iPad Air to take some photos outside and was led to reflect on the positioning of 2 statues. Charles Darwin is central to the outside space, whilst Mary Webb is positioned on the side-lines.

On entering the library the context of the current pandemic was very apparent, although in a friendly a child-like way (see the images of the floor markings).Here are some photos.

After being assigned a desk again my feminists lens emerged. As my glance looked at the bookshelves that encased the desk, again I was drawn to the androcentric collection.  

See the images.


Working in what seems to be a “diffracted methodology” enabled more freedom of expression and knowledge. This is an area to engage in.

My prior engagements (in reading in the morning) very much influenced my perceptions. Here I have not interrogated this level of subjectivity; I have merely acknowledged it.

I was not paying too much attention to people in this task. Usually my mind-wandering is very much centered around people.

Again, I was not attuned to sounds and smell -which are often things I notice.

I thought I might be engaged by the post-human aspects of my reading as these caught my imagination and the brunt of my highlighting and annotation (the idea of hauntings in historic spaces was of inteerest as was the idea of the camera as an object), yet these did not cross my mind in the mini ethnography.

It made me reflect on how I use film as an extension of my brain or as a kind of assistive technology. I make videos not for an external audience but rather as a way to remember and process the events afterwards.

Recently I have been using film in other ways- to share the events of my nephew’s first weeks on planet earth with my grandma (the baby’s great grandma). In the current situation my grandma (93) is in a care home and cannot see people in person, yet we have used moving and still images to document baby Archie’s first few weeks.

My grandma has Dementia so like how I use film to revisit events and process information, hopefully this can be a way she can revisit baby Archie. The videos are now with her and a constant that can be revisited by her when she pleases.

~ Research Process Visualisation~

Still from montage ‘researchprocessinaction’

We were asked to visualise the research process. This task is engaging as it is open to interpretation. Everyone in the grouped shared a very distinct visualisation and these ranged across how they were presented.

Whilst I recognise that there is importance in presenting information using linear models and diagrammatic boxes for the purpose of learning. I found that many of the existing models of the research process were in boxes and charts and appear quite linear and static. For me they fail to capture the animated, flux and iterative research process.

The first visualisations I included were ‘ftaken from social research books. I then used a responsive software which creates effects in response to ‘real time’ movements, events and sounds to create what I feel is the research process.

Using the software , I revisited the printed tables and charts in the social research books and moved around and did some real time recordings. I was playing the sound of water as I did this. The moving images from the footage also capture the sounds such as my breathing.

The names of the effects on the software add new meanings to this process. I will continue to use this software. Here is a list of the effect names:




















Apps for Study #2:Dragon Dictate

Thoughts and ideas move. Sometimes faster than I can remember.

By this I mean when I’m writing or typing I start, and then by the time I’ve committed the first few words to the page, my thought has moved on to the next thing. This can be frustrating given I spend so much time writing.

This sometimes frustrating tendency is referred to as a lapse in working-memory.

Working-memory is basically your capacity to keep thoughts in mind – it’s been described as the brain’s workbench.

Dragon Anywhere Dictation App

Dragon Dictate is an app for dictation. It’s straightforward.You talk into it and it types it up. Originally, I had this on my laptop and used it with a headset and microphone, but then I realised it’s an app.

It is a subscription app. It cost about £10 a month. Which is expensive. For me it’s worth it as I have it on my phone and can walk around and dictate.

One strategy I have used this app for is reading passages from books and then emailing them to myself so I can either use longer direct quotations. Sometimes I put the. passages I have dictated into a Word doc and add colour so I can re-read and retain the information.

Apps for Study #1:Time Timer

Like many people who study, I find myself oscillating between being either completely lost in the realms of time , or completely frozen struggling to muster motivation to start.

I’m not really into the constant rhetoric of productivity, but there is no shame in using an external tool to help you get on with something you see as important. This year I’ve used ‘Time Timer’.

It’s free at the moment on the App Store. Here’s a picture.

-Draft Submitted-

  • I submitted a draft of my dissertation!
  • The title is ‘Moving Towards Inclusive Pedagogies for Learners with ADHD’. It feels like a long time since I started it in October 2019. I’m already over the word count, and way ahead of the deadline in October. I’m looking forward to taking a step back from it for a couple of days and then hacking it to pieces in a brutal editing onslaught.