Assignment 4: Interviews – but not as we know them

For assignment 4, we have been asked to pick a topic and question relating to the work we have covered since September 2012.

What object do people treasure the most and why?

I have chosen this as a line of discussion as I have a few objects which I hold close to me, be it because of their sentimental, monetary, of functional values. I want to see the similarities and/or differences between the objects and associated values of people I interviewed and those of myself.

The first thing I did whilst planning my interview technique was to make a quick brainstorm diagram and outline general topics to delve into. This turned out quite fruitfully and enabled me to clearly define a short list of questions which could be asked and then expanded on after a response. My plan was to try and draw out several answers from the interviewee and then ask them which object holds the most value in the categories of :

  • Money

  • Sentimentality/Emotional

  • Functionality

After this, I asked them to narrow it down to one thing and discuss how they had come to their answer.

DSC_1148

My set questions were :

  • Have you ever been given a special birthday gift which you hold dear?

  • Do you have any heirlooms, jewelry, trinkets, which have been passed down from one generation to another?

  • Do you have any pets?

  • If you woke up during a fire, what two things would you grab and escape with?

  • Are there any objects from your childhood which you refuse to give up/throw away?

  • Are there any objects which you carry on your person at all times? Vice versa, are there any objects you purposely don’t carry with you out of fear of losing?

My main aim was to try and get solid qualitative data from really trying to get an insight into the person, their values and how it is they express these values in the material world.

Jeff is a drama student from Dundee college, he is 22 and I approached him as a friend of a friend.

Have you ever been given a special birthday gift which you hold dear?

As he was the first person I had tried this process with, I was quite surprised at how keen he

Anne seems to have quite a lot of precious, monetary objects as her prized possessions. However, this doesn’t seem to be the deciding factor in why they are so important to her. She treasures the thoughts of the people who gave her them and holds them very dear. This is epitomised in her bracelets, these would have costed very little compared to the other jewelry, for her it is all about the process of making something special from something normal to give to eventually pass to her daughter.

was and almost instantly brought his sleeve up his wrist. It was a watch he got on his 16th birthday. A brand new armani one at the time. I asked him quite bluntly if it was special because it costed a lot of money? He then  told me it is partially because it looks nice and is expensive but the main factor is the special milestone birthday associated with it.

Do you have any heirlooms, jewelry, trinkets, which have been passed down from one generation to another?

Again he promptly reacted and took a battered looking leather wallet out of his pocket. This had been a gift from his grandad before he passed away and is now the only one he uses. He explained how he self repaired the seams many times due to its age and he held it in high esteem as it was his own personal little memory.

Do you have any pets?

Unfortunately, he didn’t have any pets. With this question I am trying to look beyond the obvious of a material trinket or gadget. At the end of the day a pet is something you own, it is a possession. Nobody else can take it as theirs. However, it is very different from an inanimate object, it is an animal, a family member and has its own personality. With that obviously comes huge emotional attachment.

If you woke up during a fire, what two things would you grab and escape with?

“Hmmm, i’d probably grab my phone and wallet” I told him I understood the wallet part but then went onto the phone. It may seem like an obvious one, I said, but phones do so much more than just dial a number now.. why would you take that in particular? He responded by saying the first thing he would do is phone his parents back home to tell them what had happened and that he was okay. Maybie thereafter for a bit of comfort and a rational mind to help him.

Are there any objects from your childhood which you refuse to give up/throw away?

He told me about an old teddy he had from his childhood which was missing an eye and had had its arm sewn back on. I asked how he would feel if his parents threw it out? He told me that were it a couple of years ago he would have been furious and upset but now he thinks he would be merely disappointed but would be able to get over it quite quickly.

Are there any objects which you carry on your person at all times? Vice versa, are there any objects you purposely don’t carry with you out of fear of losing?

“Well my wallet, watch and phone are the three main ones” Other than that he couldn’t say whether there was anything he purposely left behind. He said he always keeps these things close to him.

From these observations, I can conclude that Jeffs most prized possession is his wallet. Clearly very sentimental and a memory of his relative, he would be devastated if he lost it. In this day and age, phone, is not a surprising answer, people use them for varying things but mostly for their functionality in that they can contact their friends and loved ones at a moments notice. This is shown from jeffs response saying he would phone his family first in the event of an accident. He likes to wear and bear the things special to him, some of these have considerable monetary and sentimental value related to them. In stark contrast, some are worth pennies but hold all the more value because of that.

My second interviewee was Anne. She is 52 and my mothers friend. Someone I have known for a long time but never really known that well.

Have you ever been given a special birthday gift which you hold dear?

“Yep” she then went on to show me the silver charm bracelet for her 18th birthday.  It turns out her best friend gave her it with a single star charm on it. Ever since then she had added a charm every couple of years but only when she found one that she really likes. Eventually it was full, so she decided to get another, and another to fill. These come across as very prized personal objects as she has taken decades to decide how to make them. I asked her, where would they go if something were to happen to you? “Definitely my daughter, i’ve promised my first one to her in a couple of years time anyway.”

Do you have any heirlooms, jewelry, trinkets, which have been passed down from one generation to another?

Unfortunately she didn’t, most of her mothers jewelry had been pawned off to survive back in the day she told me. “Thats why I want to leave these behind to Katie.”

Do you have any pets?

Again, no pets…

If you woke up during a fire, what two things would you grab and escape with?

After thinking for awhile she said she would grab her phone and purse. “Not your charms?” She said she’d obviously be devastated about her house and the charms but in the moment she would need her phone to get in contact with family and her purse to live while everything surrounding the house got sorted out.

Are there any objects you purposely don’t carry with you out of fear of losing them?

She told me that she is actually quite scared of wearing her precious jewelry, rings in particular as she lost her engagement ring from her husband. Only one piece of jewelry maximum at any given point would be worn so she can keep track of everything.

My third and final interviewee was Derek, he is my friends brother, 32, and a qualified electrician.

Have you ever been given a special birthday gift which you hold dear?

Derek told me quite an amazing story about a watch he got for his 21st birthday. He didn’t have it on his person he said, it always stays in a display case in his room. Nothing too flashy, just a nice chunky, metal watch. The interesting thing was that both the minute and the hour hands had stopped at twelve o’clock nighttime when he received it from his family on his birthday. I asked him if he was superstitious at all, and thats why he didn’t just replace the battery? He said he wasn’t really but this just seemed too incredible to him so he decided to keep it that way. Now he has it on display and  is his first thought when remembering his 21’st birthday.

Do you have any pets?

I knew that one straight away as my friend’s been looking his brothers doggie before. But he told me about Jessie the collie and showed me a picture. I asked if he felt like Jessie was a family member or just a pet that he owned. He obviously said she is like family, and is an extension of him but when i asked “You are technically her owner though? And she is yours that you’ve bought and kept?” he smiled and agreed.

If you woke up during a fire, what two things would you grab and escape with?

He told me he’d grab his phone first, have a scramble for his wallet if he could and then make sure jessie and the rest of the family are safe. This is again showing that the most important thing to people when they are in this life threatening position is to care for those closest to them over any object, be it valuable, sentimentally or monetary. Something like a phone is the most valuable thing in certain situations because of its function, allowing people to talk. Normally, it doesn’t cost the world to buy one, nor does the owner often get very emotionally attached to a piece of hardware like it, but its about what is what it does over what it is.

Are there any objects from your childhood which you refuse to give up/throw away?

After a bit of prodding, Derek told me that to this day, he’s got a patchwork quilt made by his granny stashed away in his room. He told me its probably quite fragile by now but he’s going to keep it nonetheless because it reminds him of her.

Derek seems like the sort of person who treasures things because the have emotional attachment or bring back memories. For example his watch was not phenomenally expensive, it could have been easily fixed but because it broke in that special way, it now has so much meaning to it rather than a plain 21st birthday present. He is also very thoughtful and caring, eventually telling me Jessie was his most prized possession when I asked him.

On the whole, after interviewing three very different people, i’ve came to the conclusion that objects with monetary value can be, and are often very precious to a person. This however does not compare to the level of sentimental/emotional value connected to special items with only a little money backing them. These things often link back to a certain memory or person who had a kind spot for them in their heart. At other times the item is an oddity which the person has grown to love through making or caring for. Functionality is a big value for many people in this day and age. People need to have their phones, laptops and all the other technology on a day to day basis. These can have a huge value money wise but people don’t connect with these cold pieces of equipment. As they say, you can always get a new one!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s