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Elvia Vasconcelos

Elvia Vasconcelos

Elvia Vasconcelos
Image Credit: Self-portrait, May 2019

Dorothea Schlegel Artist in Residence
Research Area 5 "Building Digital Communities"

October – December 2021

Sketches as a conversation interface

What meanings emerge when thinking is situated and extended through collaborative sketching? This project aims to explore the possibilities of sketching as an analytical and critical tool within collaborative processes. More specifically, its premise is to use sketches to create a shared process in situations where physical co-presence is limited.

Sketching can be used to collaboratively think through complex ideas, synthesize imagined worlds and explore the paths of collective meaning. As a method, it can be taken as a way of co-authoring representation via a back-and-forth between people. The possibilities for sketches as an analytical and critical tool stem from the ways in which they open up the research process, by making explicit the thinking, reasoning and logics of thought.

As a collaborative tool, drawing acts as a communal table around which we sit to share and explore our understanding of things together. On this communal table, ideas, thoughts and questions are laid together side by side. This side-by-sideness facilitates for things to exchange between them, which in turn triggers further debate between people. Drawing together creates a dialogue from which multiple collective narratives emerge, thus allowing us to see and make connections that could not be seen before. Hence drawing together holds the potential for accessing meanings we would not be able to access otherwise. 

This work proposes sketches as a site for exchange and explores the interplay between text and drawing. The use of sketches as a surface for conversation creates a space in which multiple narratives can emerge and co-exist. 

Elvia Vasconcelos is a design researcher who has been working in the digital industry for the past 10 years and is currently a Doctoral candidate at the Technical University of Eindhoven, in the Department for Industrial Design. This work investigates the politics of collaboration and explores situated notions of participation as ‘being together’. In her work, Elvia has been using sketchnotes - a form of visual note taking that combines words with simple drawings - to have conversations and tell stories in simple, accessible and engaging ways. These sketches act as conversation sites that in the to and fro between people create common ground and shared meanings. Done collectively, they unfold in a continuous process of listening and exchange, where we negotiate our understanding of things together.

Online: instagram.com/sketchnotes_are_awesome