by Oenone Thomas

Deborah[i] is an artist who makes audio-visual installation artwork based on interdisciplinary collaboration. This has included working with biologists, ecologists, biomedical experts, technologists, and specialists in mental health. We initially met on the train as I travelled to Tate Modern in London for the AYCH Tate Exchange Creative Jam and we immediatley realised that the conversation should continue.

Our discussion today was thoughtful, sometimes fast and at other times slow as we considered a diverse range of topics which do not necessarily fit neatly in to a linear piece of writing. It was refreshing to let the conversation take its natural path. This meandering led to:

Young People’s expectations about their lives. Their integration of work and life, their stronger bonds with environmental and global values, their desire for experiences, change and challenge which is at odds with clearly delineated models of work and leisure.

We turned to the magic of the 3.5% behavioural change threshold[ii]. Whether AYCH should think about, debate and perhaps demonstrate through its work how to make behavioural change happen. Thinking here about Florent’s comment about AYCH changing his practice, AYCH Ocean’s impact on the Cíes Islands and some of the campaigns which Young People have presented at our local and transnational Creative Jams. Sometimes the issues we deal with – Climate Change, loss of habitat, mental health etc are overwhelming. How do we overcome being overwhelmed? There is something about scale “think globally, act locally” which has somehow been lost.

Discussions turned to those everyday straplines the permeate our lives. What do they mean and are their messages too human-centric? The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has ‘giving nature a home’. Do we give nature a home? Is it ours to give? Perhaps with our focus on circular economies and sustainable practice AYCH and our Young People could examine our messaging to ‘de-throne the human’ and in doing so enhance behavioural change.

We work in a world of constructs which are not-fit-for-purpose. Where academics work in collaboration across borders but where universities are ranked by research publication which they want to ‘own’ and where products/services/campaigns are co-designed by AYCH transnational teams where Intellectual Property rights and State Aid are complex.  Recognition is due, but are their things that are beyond ownership? AYCH believes there is, and our Wiki demonstrates this but in other ways we are bound by out-dated constructs. Reporting for ACYH is heavily text based, divided and sub-divided until the essence of what we do is lost whereas we could use the Key Enabling Technologies, multimedia and immersive experience to show so much more.

Our conversation briefly turned to the benefit of ‘gaze aversion’[iii] and how our fixation on eye contact might sometimes be misplaced but we had to an end before we could really start. But I hope that we might learn something from one another. For the moment I have promised to send some videos of AYCH, think about opportunities for collaboration and to allow more time for slow meandering conversation.





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