“Design for Dreaming” Workshops and Cultural Exchange

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The Design for Dreaming workshops were organized in collaboration with the small world project in Hong Kong. During these workshops, pupils learned how to create a storyboard based on pre-existing movie shots. The aim was to give children  the opportunity to gain independence from prescribed moving images and to express their imagination. Here are their videos and a description of how it all happened.

Initially, the Design for Dreaming workshop was a one-time event organized for the Dreams of Progress exhibition. The project started when Rossella Black from the Westminster Reference Library asked for a workshop concept that could fit in with Children’s Art Day 2009. I suggested a storyboarding workshop, inspired by the collaborative project ‘Same video, different use’ from the video artist Remyyy. Here is how it went.

Everyone listening at the story of the second group.
Everyone listening to the story of the second group (London’s first workshop)

A little later, I was contacted by Nathan Johnston from the small world project, which is a group of very dynamic people organizing media-arts workshops that allow pupils to creatively share their world. They liked the concept and proposed to use the same format with a class of Hong Kong pupils. English was not the first language of the Hong Kong secondary school students (ages 12-16), which added a new dimension to the exercise. I wrote a step-by-step documentation of the workshop and sent Nathan all the material.

A group debating a scene of the storyboard
A group debating a scene of the storyboard (Hong Kong’s workshop)

Children were first presented with the Design for Dreaming video. They were then split into small groups, each having in front of them a little less than a hundred printed images representing scenes from the movie. The groups had about an hour to create their own storyboard, made of scenes from the original movie and texts that they could add in between. Asides from the fun and practical experience gained from the workshop, the children also learned how the same video footage can be sequenced to create many different stories, that what is showed every day on television is not an exact representation of reality but the result of a montage. Here are some examples of what they did. You can find all the videos in the Small World Vimeo group.

Design for Dreaming – Children’s Art Day 2009 from Christophe Bruchansky on Vimeo.

A Surprise in the Night from therese on Vimeo.

The Dream Came True from Nathan Johnston on Vimeo.

One of the most valuable parts of this collaboration was for me to share post-workshop lessons with Nathan Johnston. Both in Hong Kong and London, we saw how it was a big step for children to understand that they can manipulate movie shots and create a storyline different from the video they have just seen. But it required only a little perseverance to see them thinking  independently. Also, the original Design for Dreaming video and its dreamy images helped the children unleash their creativity without being too restricted by rationality.