What I hear, I forget, what I see, I remember, what I do, I know. – Chinese Proverb
Visual material provides a form of ‘thick description’ – that which is contextualised, holds many details, concepts and meanings. This emotive and embodied nature is in both the process and the product of these methods. The multi-sensory impact of the visual affects us emotionally before we can think our way into a reaction. Visual material offers a multi-layeredness or ‘thickness’, and it physically locates the viewer: this is part of its impact. Film is:
‘such a powerful medium to convey representations and to change, to mess with some of the representations, and because it’s so three-dimensional, it has so much more than the written word. You can get so much in there somehow in a very short time…In 3 minutes you can say something far more complex and deeply layered and provocative to get people engaged, much more than an academic piece of writing, because it touches on peoples’ feelings, puts people into a scene, gets them challenging their viewpoints’. (Andrea Cornwall)
Visual methodologies allow participants to be embodied, intuitive, and step away from (and later back towards) their analytical selves. There is something important about the intensity of the shared creation experience. Temporarily suspending our ‘thinking’ self in favour of our ‘feeling’ self allow us to tap into what Foucault terms ‘subjugated knowledges’. These ‘knowledges’ spring from emotions and imagination and ordinarily are hidden under dominant discourse.