Title of Study
Recomposing the Archive: remediating memories of Iraqi diaspora with archive photography, oral history, and Virtual Reality.
Activity: Iraq Photo Archive – House of Memory VR Experience
This practice-led research uses an arts-based participatory process with a group of contributors from the Iraqi diaspora community, who voluntarily submitted their personal photographs to an online platform created by the researcher: www.iraqphotoarchive.com Some contributors voluntarily took part in oral history interviews to discuss their memories of the photographic moments they shared with the platform. Some of the memory material generated through this process were creatively re-presented by the researcher in the House of Memory VR experience. The research methodology has been designed for Iraqi diaspora to share and narrate their experiences; to be the authors of their own stories.
About the researcher: Basil Al-Rawi is an Irish-Iraqi visual artist whose practice explores themes of memory, identity, and the politics of representation, through archive photographs, narration, and digital simulation.
What is the purpose of the study?
The purpose of this research is to explore the remediation of this memory material (historical photographs and stories) within an immersive Virtual Reality experience, to understand the impact this kind of presentation has on representation and perception of Iraqi narratives, both within and outside of the Iraqi diaspora community. The simulation aims to convey the memories of Iraqi diaspora surrounding their photographs through immersive technology, as well as provide representations of Iraqi people and places in digital environments that are led by Iraqis themselves. This research seeks to enhance Virtual Reality experiences of the past to create a rich emotional connection, and foster broader understanding of Iraqi narratives across communities. The outcomes intend to demonstrate innovative ways to combine archive photography and audio-visual oral history within VR. The work aims to provide a methodological and technological framework to empower artists, researchers, and historians with approaches to creatively explore and represent the past in order to add new perspectives. This project also aims to build wider understanding and knowledge of Iraqi stories beyond media representations of conflict. Furthermore, recording these stories contributes to building wider collective histories within the Iraqi diaspora community as well as works towards decolonisation of historic narratives.
Why have I been invited to take part?
You have been invited to take part as you either:
submitted a photograph to the archive and consented to further contact about the research project;
took part in oral history interviews and consented to further contact about the project;
expressed an interest in taking part by attending the exhibition space
Taking part and providing feedback on your interaction with the VR experience will provide valuable contributions to allow the effectiveness of this research to be evaluated.
Do I have to take part?
Your participation is voluntary. I would like you to consent to participate in this study as I believe that you can make an important contribution to the research. If you do not wish to participate, you do not have to proceed any further. If you do consent to participate, you may skip any questions or tasks that make you uncomfortable and you may discontinue your participation at any time without penalty or loss of benefits. In addition, the researcher has the right to withdraw you or your contributions from participation in the study at any time.
What will happen if I take part?
If you are happy to participate in the research, you are asked to read this information sheet and sign and submit the consent form provided by the researcher. The experience will take place either at the Incubation Space at the LAB Gallery in Dublin, The Arab British Centre in London, or the Reid Building at the Glasgow School of Art. Before we proceed with the VR experience, you will fill out a brief survey on a tablet. You will be given instructions by the researcher on health and safety guidelines while being in VR and will be guided with putting on an Oculus Quest 2 Virtual Reality headset. At the end of the experience, you will fill out another 2 brief surveys on a tablet and the process will then be complete. If you are a participant who contributed an oral history interview, you will also be invited to take part in a final short interview to provide feedback on the whole process and you will be asked for your consent to participate in this interview.
What are the possible benefits and risks of taking part?
Whilst there may be no specific personal benefits to your participation in this study, it is anticipated that you will find the experience to be interesting and enjoyable. Your feedback will provide valuable metrics by which the effectiveness of the presentation can be evaluated.
As this is a face-to-face experience, COVID-19 transmission is an acknowledged risk, and an appropriate risk assessment has been undertaken. Local health guidelines are being followed and face-masks and antibacterial gel are provided in the space. All VR hardware that you will come in contact with is appropriately cleaned before and after each participants use.
Prior to the VR experience, you will be issued with a VR Health and Safety outlining potential risks. Those unfamiliar with Virtual Reality may experience disorientation or discomfort, in which case we will stop the process immediately at your request. However, I do not anticipate any risks or discomforts to you from participating in this research. If you wish, you may choose to withdraw your consent and discontinue your participation at any time during the study without penalty.
The narrations do include descriptions of photographs and memories surrounding the context of the image, which could refer to deceased relatives or friends, conflict, or places of displacement or exile, and as such, have the potential to be triggering or distressing.
Should you become distressed during the experience, I will stop the experience immediately at your request.
Will my taking part be kept confidential?
Your name is recorded on the consent form and questionnaire solely for the purposes of validating the link between your consent and the research data. This data will not be used to identify you from the questionnaire. Your identification will subsequently be anonymised in the research data which will be presented in the thesis which accompanies this study. No information will be included that will make it possible to identify you or any individual participant by name in the research data. Personal data (names) captured in the consent form and questionnaires will only be stored for the duration of the research project and is only accessible by the researcher. Research data from the analysis of the questionnaires will be stored for 10 years and will be accessible by the researcher and their GSA supervisors, as per GSA research data policy. Personal data is stored on a password protected folder on the researcher’s hard drive, and research data will be stored on a password protected folder on the researcher’s hard drive as well as encrypted back-up on a network drive accessible by GSA supervisors.
Your interaction within the VR experience will be screen-recorded to provide information on the design and effectiveness of the experience.
With your consent, photographs and video recordings may be made while you are wearing the headset and interacting with the VR experience. These photos or videos may be made publicly available in publications, presentations, exhibitions, reports, or examinable format (dissertation or thesis) for the purposes of research and teaching. These images and recordings will remain anonymous with regard to names.
How is the project being funded?
This PhD research is funded by scholarship from The Glasgow School of Art.
What will happen to the results of the study?
Your responses in the questionnaires will be analysed and the outcomes will be evaluated as part of a written thesis submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy by the researcher at the Glasgow School of Art. Your responses may be made publicly available in publications, presentations, exhibitions, reports or examinable format (dissertation or thesis) for the purposes of research and teaching, and they will remain anonymous.
Who should I contact for further information?
If you have any questions or require more information about this study, please contact me using the following contact details:
Basil Al-Rawi, PhD Student Researcher, School of Simulation and Visualisation, The Glasgow School of Art, The Hub, Pacific Quay, Glasgow, G51 1EA
What if I have further questions, or if something goes wrong?
If this study has harmed you in any way or if you wish to make a complaint about the conduct of the study you can contact GSA using the details below for further advice and information:
Dr Matthieu Poyade, Research Fellow and MSc Pathway Leader, School of Simulation and Visualisation, The Glasgow School of Art
+44 (0) 141 566 1497
Prof. Steve Love, Senior Researcher, School of Simulation and Visualisation, The Glasgow School of Art.
+44 (0) 141 566 1462
Thank you for reading this information sheet and for considering taking part in this research.
Please keep this document for future reference.
PhD Student Researcher
School of Simulation and Visualisation
The Glasgow School of Art
Thank you for reading this information sheet and for considering taking part in this research.
You can download a PDF copy of this Participant Information Sheet for future reference here: