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David J. O’Brien
David J. O’Brien
M. Rezaul Islam, Niaz Ahmed Khan, Siti Hajar Abu Bakar Ah, Haris Abd Wahab and Mashitah Binti Hamidi
Fieldwork/data collection is one of the most important parts in the research process, and it is particularly important for social sciences research. A number of aspects that need to be considered by a researcher before starting data collection include: ethical permission from the concerned ethical body/committee, informed consent, contract with different stakeholders, field settings, time allocation and time management, field leading, data collection, contextual and cultural diversities, community settings, socioeconomic and psychological patterns of the community, political pattern, rapport building between data collectors and respondents, permission to access community, language and mode of data collection, power relations, role of gatekeepers, privacy and confidentiality issues, layers of expectations among researchers/respondents/ funding organization, data recording (written, memorization, voice recording and video recording), and so on. Many aspects are very difficult to understand before going into the field. Sometimes, a researcher’s previous experience about a particular community may help to gain field access, but it may be difficult to assess the field in advance due to rapid changes within people’s livelihoods and other shifts in the community. The change of a political paradigm sometimes seems also to be a challenge at the field level. We believe that although technological innovation has benefited some aspects of the data collection of fieldwork in social research, many other dimensions (mentioned above) of fieldwork endure unchanged.
This chapter’s point of departure is the definition of the quality of public art and its democratic character in terms of the quality of its exchanges with a wider public. Public art interventions oriented towards a dialogue with a wider public and local contexts strengthen democracy in at least two ways: by providing a meaningful background for collective performance in urban public spaces, and by providing a background for widely understood human development, which is a prerequisite for active involvement in the democratic life of a society. In this context I argue that the adoption of the perspective of modern aesthetics in relation to public art is problematic, as it foremost appreciates free, abstract art and encourages highly idiosyncratic formal explorations, often resulting in artworks that are incomprehensible for the average spectator. The chapter then brings forward Gadamer’s concepts of play and festival, and discusses implications of the understanding of public art.
Where landscape becomes political and where it gains symbolism beyond that of grand abstractions such as ‘escape’ or ‘wildness’ is when landscape may be accessed. A political landscape imaginary must include the possibility of passage, occupation and/or inhabitation in order to have maximum power. The possibilities of landscape imaginaries benefit from being tested in physical places by human bodies and their constructions. This testing often takes place in acts of transgression such as the mass trespass of Kinder Scout in England’s Peak District in 1932 or the contemporary actions of the Occupy movement. Passage and occupation are both situated qualities of human bodies in landscapes. This chapter argues that a situated understanding is foundational to any meaningful conception of democratic society. Trespass forces access and forces politics back from the space of abstraction and into the real landscape place. Trespass is a constant necessity for the enactment of democracy.