May 25, 2012, by Tara de Cozar

In the zone?

Interesting piece of research that crosses the murky borders of definition into art here. A collaboration between artist and filmmaker David Bickerstaff and Dr Victoria Tischler, a chartered psychologist and lecturer at the University, examines the concept of what athletes term ‘The Zone’ – the state of mind where they achieve absolute focus on their physical activity. The press release talks about how the film came about, but we spoke to Dr Tischler about why she wanted to do the project in the first place.

“I am interested in using art, in this case film, as an attractive and accessible way in which to engage the public with complex research phenomena. In fact film is probably the most accessible artistic medium and in the age of the internet it is very easy to disseminate material this way eg via Vimeo and YouTube.

“In academic terms, we live in the time of ‘impact’ case studies so it has become more important that ever to connect our research to peoples’ real life experiences. This could help the public see and better understand the relevance of research which is often paid for via the public purse. In the case of ‘The Zone’ film, I aimed for it to have both an aesthetic and a motivational purpose i.e. to encourage people to exercise. In the case of psychology, we often study issues that cannot easily be seen and may be hard to describe – eg emotion and thought. This can make it more difficult to demonstrate the impact of psychological research.

“I chose the concept of ‘the zone’ as it has resonance in the Olympic year of 2012. The phenomenon also applies to other spheres of life. For example, in creative pursuits the same phenomenon is referred to as ‘flow’. The phenomenon could be even more generalisable as it involves harmony between mind and body, facilitating peak performance, a skill that many people could utilise to help them achieve their goals.”

Interesting stuff, both from a psychological perspective and from the perspective of making complex, academic concept accessible. What do you think? Could other fields benefit from working with artists and digital media in this way? Watch the video and let us know.

Posted in Psychology