• Ella Welsby

A creative solution – Digital Downtime cultural probe.

I conducted a cultural probe in which I invited students on their lunch break to explore digital downtime stepping away from their phones whilst they ate. I placed pens and paper on a lunch table in the Benzie café, MMU,  inviting creatives to put their devices aside and draw. I intended to gather a visual representation of digital downtime, to capture what else could be achieved when we are present in the moment without our devices.

On the paper I wrote ‘Digital Downtime – take a break from your devices’ to tell the public why this was there. The results from this showed an illustrative visual piece of research into a time where digital downtime was encouraged. 

This experiment was inspired by the exhibition “…And Breathe” at Manchester Art Gallery, which intended to “explore the relationship between art and mindfulness…and nurturing our mental and emotional wellbeing through interacting with art”. The exhibition intended to create a space “to enable slowing down and mindful connection to take place”, something I wanted to try and capture within my own work.  Alongside this, the gallery provided audio meditations to accompany the exhibition, which created an interactive experience within a peaceful atmosphere. Furthermore, I noted that the the exhibition considers the theme of ‘care’, not just for the attendees, but for the wider community, due to the partnerships with local charities in aid of the exhibition.

The main thing that stood out to me from this cultural probe was that of harnessing our creative side has the potential to aid our wellbeing by engaging in art; whether that be creating or interacting. Research has shown there is a potential for positive impact and highlights the importance creativity can have on our mental health Creative work could help us to slow down and navigate our emotional wellbeing, something I wish to explore further down the line of my ongoing research. 

Manchester, UK

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©2020 – Ella Welsby