The Visual Matrix Method: Imagery and Affect in a Group-Based Research Setting
The visual matrix is a method for researching shared experience, stimulated by sensory material relevant to a research question. It is led by imagery, visualization and affect, which in the matrix take precedence over discourse. The method enables the symbolization of imaginative and emotional material, which might not otherwise be articulated and allows "unthought" dimensions of experience to emerge into consciousness in a participatory setting. We describe the process of the matrix with reference to the study "Public Art and Civic Engagement" (FROGGETT, MANLEY, ROY, PRIOR & DOHERTY, 2014) in which it was developed and tested. Subsequently, examples of its use in other contexts are provided. Both the matrix and post-matrix discussions are described, as is the interpretive process that follows. Theoretical sources are highlighted: its origins in social dreaming; the atemporal, associative nature of the thinking during and after the matrix which we describe through the Deleuzian idea of the rhizome; and the hermeneutic analysis which draws from object relations theory and the Lorenzerian tradition of scenic understanding.
The matrix has been conceptualized as a "scenic rhizome" to account for its distinctive quality and hybrid origins in research practice. The scenic rhizome operates as a "third" between participants and the "objects" of contemplation. We suggest that some of the drawbacks of other group-based methods are avoided in the visual matrix—namely the tendency for inter-personal dynamics to dominate the event.
Copyright (c) 2015 Julian Manley, Lynn Froggett, Alastair Roy
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