It’s not uncommon to look at the climate crisis right now and to feel completely overwhelmed and brought into a state of complete emotional atrophy. And when we reach that paralysing fear of environmental doom, it’s easy to turn a blind eye, shut out those thoughts and feelings so that we can continue with our day with ease. But shutting out our eco-anxieties and wilfully turning a blind eye won’t bring about change and arguably would just lead to further environmental damage: so how do we productively process, reflect and understand our anxieties so that we might move past this stagnancy?
This project has been developed on the fundamental notion that storytelling and looking to alternative perspectives of the environment that deviate from human-centric views is integral to paving a way for a more desirable future. In particular, researching into Asian perspectives of human-nature relationships is fundamental to the context of this project, and ultimately, the figure of the Yokai and its affordances as a storytelling device akin to that of monsters, developed into a framework for this project to abstract, reflect and make tangible our relationship with the environment. For more on the theoretical context of this project, feel free to have a look at my dissertation here.
Across 22 weeks of development, the workshop itself underwent multiple iterations. The gif above shows the first two iterations of the workshop presentation slides, and some of the subsequent participant results. These participatory workshops were all held over zoom in groups of 2-5, due to the 2020 COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions. Some participants also chose to complete the workshop in their own time, without any guidance. Ultimately, this led to the choice to create a modular workshop-kit.
Data collection and analysis was also an integral part of this project. Across multiple user tests and participatory workshop trials, a total of 181 unique yokais and stories were collected. Unfortunately, not all stories are able to be displayed at this point, and after careful analysis, 30 of the most common and unique yokais from participant results have been illustrated to become part of Materialising Yokai's collateral.
Having gained consent from all participants to re-imagine their yokais in a unique illustrative style, the visual language of this project shifted greatly. Beginning with traditional medium to mimic traditional Japanese paintings of yokais the project eventually evolved to a modern, bold and spooky visual language. These illustrations serve to capture participant results, and became collateral for the final project.
Currently under development, the publication for 'Materialising Yokais: Monsterising Our Eco-anxieties' is a self-published piece that in further detail documents the process behind this project. From detailed research to interviews and conversations with participants, this publication is the first next step to this project. It will be available for purchase on blurb books.
For further information and collaboration opportunities to run this workshop, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!