Anthropology and Photography 2014 (1)

British Museum, Clore Centre, 29-31 May 2014

(P32)

The Image in Motion: Photofilm and Visual Ethnographies

Location Stevenson Lecture Theatre
Date and Start Time 29 May, 2014 at 15:30

Convenor

Susanne Hammacher (Übersee-Museum Bremen)  email
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Short Abstract

Photofilm (combination of still-photography with at least one other medium such as sound, music, video, animation or graphics), albums, exhibitions and curated collections made by anthropologists, photographers or cultural theorists [such as Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, ‘The Family of Man' (MoMA 1955, Edward Steichen), Salgado's Genesis, or the Golden Disk – Messages from Earth (NASA Voyager)] create human knowledge and narratives by creating neighbourhoods of images; in the way images influence one another they relate to the fluid meaning of cinematographic image montage.

Long Abstract

The panel invites practical contributions such as contemporary Photofilms as well documentaries, which recontextualize archival images to create a new narrative or ethnography.

Films to be discussed:

Dead and Devil. Peter Nestler, 2009, 55 mins

Peter Nestler embarks on a historical journey in search of his grandfather Eric van Rosen, an ethnographer, explorer and adventerer. The video essay about the expeditions of Eric von Rosen is illustrated with photographs he took, texts, diaries and letters.

The Archive of Memory. Eric Breibart, 2003, 25 mins

Aby Warburg, cultural theorist and art historian dedicated much of his life to one grand project: an art history without a text, told entirely through images. His Mnemosyne was creating neighbourhoods of images, of disparate origin: art reproductions, advertisements, maps, newspaper clippings, personal photographs - a kind of the Flickr of early 20th century. The provisional arrangement of the Atlas, and his feel for the way images influence one another relate to the fluid meaning of cinematographic image montage.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Fracture, Glean and Emerge : the archive, the image bank and the narrative

Author: Cathy Greenhalgh (Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London) email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the process of finding archive images and creating affective photographic and cinematographic temporalities through the narrative structures of two ethnographic films. It examines various strategies and theories of relation and montage.

Long Abstract

This paper explores the process of finding archive images and combining them with photographic and cinematographic temporalities through the narrative structures of two ethnographic films. Shooting with the new HDSLR cameras which shoot both stills and video changed practices of both film-making and editing for Switch (Greenhalgh, 2013) and Cottonopolis (Greenhalgh, forthcoming, 2014). Both films use archive stills and integrate affective continuities and dissonances, combining still, moving and animated stop frame image sequences. The ethnographic research began with archive material, interviews, drawing, video sketches, photographs, notes and poems. Filming involved a bricolage activity of walking and shooting still, then movie, then animated stills sequences in environments such as Blackpool seafront promenade and old Manchester and Mumbai cotton factories. A process like 'scrying', scanning through immediate replay, and discovering narrative connections evolved as I carried notebooks and Ipad with archive images and audio of memories of participants. Editing is interrupted differently by the accumulation of data rather than changing celluloid canister or film roll. The paper briefly examines the efficacy of themes and strategies of relation, affect, temporality and montage; by way of Manovich (spatial montage), Kristeva (intertextuality), Bourriaud (relational aesthetics), Campany (montage orchestration), Walker Evans (conceptual palimpsest) Cartier-Bresson (decisive moment), Ivakhiv (ecology of images), Manning (relationscapes), Agnes Varda (gleaning) and Stanley Kubrick (contact print archive). It will reveal some of the challenges and pleasures of interdisciplinary approaches, combining the photographic, the cinematographic and the anthropological, in trying to deliver an essayistic ethnographic film from a substantial variety of image sources.

Neorealism – Beyond Film & Photography

Author: Aeron O'Connor (University College London) email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the ideological and methodological ties between Italian anthropology’s study of folklore and Neorealism’s engagement with everyday life. This facilitates a discussion of the nature of ethnographic film and photography and its place within the arts more broadly.

Long Abstract

The Neorealist movement in post-war Italy was steeped in cultural, political, artistic and economic discourse. It was heavily anthropological, but there seems to be no publication that fully investigates the relationship between Italian anthropology’s study of local folklore and Neorealist filmmaking’s engagement with everyday life in Italy. Italian anthropologists and filmmakers at the time were in constant discussion and collaboration with one another: they explored various visual recording techniques to ‘rediscover’ Italy and give communities marginalised by the Fascist regime a voice. The films were of immense ethnographic value to Italy’s anthropological movement and were, to some extent, an extension of it. This fusion of anthropology, folklore and Neorealism created a movement that was unique, constantly transforming, and helped shape and define post-war Italy through film, photography and literature. This paper will evidence the close ideological and methodological ties between Italian anthropology and the Neorealist movement, and show how an anthropological discourse of photography would be incomplete without the integration of film, literature and folklore into it.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.