Mediation of Visual Memories of Environments by Verbal Narrative
“Every story is a travel story, a spatial practice” Merlin Coverley
People love to tell stories, and through these verbal narratives we can get closer to under- standing their perceptions of the surrounding environment. However, humans consciously tend to attach everything they hear to a visual “sign,” since visual narrative, as we can call it, has more power in recalling, and especially in reconstructing, memories. This research investigates the extent to which verbal narra- tive mediates the recall of visual memories of an environment.
This study utilised a two-step data collection process, involving both visual and verbal re- constructions of environments. The first stage employed visual representations of events from memory – specifically hand-drawings, and showed both positive and negative outcomes. On the positive side, it was an engag- ing activity for participants, and the drawings provided useful visual research data. However, this method was seen to cause errors in recall because of differences in participants’ ability to transfer information from memory in a visual, tangible form through drawings.
In the second stage, unstructured interviews were used to find connections between how the participants verbally described a trip, and how they represented it visually. Participants related a narrative account of the environment they experienced, in episodic ‘flash” memories, rather than in linear narrative. The outcomes of analysis of both stages of the research could be useful to help understand the roles that memories of events play in the recall of visual representations of environments.
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