Abstract: Significant Walks - Dr Shirley Chubb

Whereto: Shirley Chubb

Dr Shirley Chubb
Reader in Interdisciplinary Art
University of Chichester

Stephen Hodge & Cathy Turner describe how an artwork doesn't "invariably engage with its context in terms of a fixed, physical and knowable site." (Heddon & Klein, 2012: Palgave) but as Claire Doherty's defines, can be formed of "situated practices, suggesting a more fluid engagement with location and its discursive and social contexts." (2004: Black Dog Publishing)

Significant Walks is a Wellcome Trust funded project exploring the reality of walking with chronic lower back pain. The project's collaborative art and science research team worked with participants from Sussex to present their experiences as an immersive digital artwork synthesizing eye level video documentation of personal walks with simultaneously gathered biomechanical data. Using visual effects software the research team also worked with participants to identify the most effective way to express the nature and challenge of their personal movement, resulting in a series of micro journeys that both interpret clinically accurate data and express individual experience.

The resonance of walking as a metaphor for understanding our individual place in the world is key to this research. Walking is a part of our daily existence, providing opportunities to consider how we interact, navigate and respond to our environment. Given the prevalence of chronic low back pain this experience is compromised for many people and Significant Walks seeks to capture these individual realities by animating quantitative data whilst simultaneously communicating qualitative experience. The resulting artwork acts as a vehicle for both the science of data collection and the reality of the individual at the core of scientific understanding, reminding us that in considering the experience of others we can better appreciate our own realities.

This presentation will discuss the impact of the research and how interdisciplinary research and mobile technologies can articulate the visual voice of a particular cohort of walkers.


Shirley Chubb's work involves visual responses to heritage sites, archives and museum collections. Her exhibitions Thinking Path and Pen Rest considered Charles Darwin's synchronic approach to knowledge and prompted an interest in the mechanics of motion, with her current work focusing on how visual art might become an effective means to manifest the significance of walking through particular environments and landscapes.

She leads the Significant Walks collaborative research team working with digital artist Neil Bryant (University of Chichester) and Professor Ann Moore and Dr Kambiz Saber-Sheikh (University of Brighton).

Her work is included in public and private collections and has been supported by the Wellcome Trust, the AHRB and the ACE National Touring Programme and Grants for the Arts schemes.

Shirley lives in Brighton and is reader in interdisciplinary art at the University of Chichester and visiting fellow at the Centre for Health Research at the University of Brighton.