The potential of multimedia art to stimulate personal expression of, and reflection on childhood experience

  • Yu-Ling Yeh

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Emotional intelligence (EI) plays a significant role in human emotional well-being, personal growth and life satisfaction. Self-awareness is said to be a key to the development of this form of intelligence. It has also been claimed by art therapists and educators that the expressive arts can assist people in self-expression and emotional awareness.

    In accordance with this belief, the motion picture (a movie) as a form of expressive product has been used to help people become aware of their own hidden feelings and thoughts (i.e. viewing or making an autobiographical movie can promote emotional awareness). However, there has been little research that specifically addresses how the process of making (one particular form of expressive art) may help a person to engage with their emotions.

    Therefore the central aim of the research was to show firstly how the development of autobiographical animations may engender therapeutic opportunities for greater reflection thereby facilitating personal development of, and emotional awareness in the artist and secondly, to demonstrate that the viewing of such animations may prompt viewers to gain the understanding of the feelings of the animator and be stimulated to reflect on their own experience, followed by the subsidiary goal of demonstrating that
    making animation could provide additional opportunities to the growth of greater emotional awareness in therapeutic and school education settings.

    To achieve these aims, a practice-led research approach was adopted. The thesis presents the reflective journey undertaken in creating the final installation ‘A residual cleft in my beautiful life:
    childhood’ based on childhood memories, showing how reflection-on-practice and in-practice formed key components in shaping the research and accompanying artistic endeavours. The development of the installation confirmed that the processes undertaken in producing an animation provided opportunities for self-knowledge and personal growth (in the artist), and that the audience were stimulated to consider their own childhoods as well as the childhood presented to them. The evidences of the animation installation production and the audience’s responses to the artefact further support the positive feedback on the values of animation to assist in increasing self-awareness from interviews
    with art therapists, and an online survey with school teachers. Observation of s three month animation teaching placement is also reported to invite further study to explore animation practice and school education.

    In conclusion, this research contributes to knowledge firstly, by providing a practice based account of the researcher’s exploration of, and development of emotional insight through her therapeutic art; secondly by evidencing the potential of a new form of expressive art - animation – to be used as an expressive arts technique to engage the emotional intelligence of individuals and audiences.
    Date of Award2008
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorRolf Gehlhaar (Supervisor), Andree Woodcock (Supervisor) & John Burns (Supervisor)

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