Field and film aesthetics: sensory anthropology and the texture of documentary filmmakers' practice
Cathy Greenhalgh
Nina Sabnani (IIT Bombay)
Steve Hughes
Steve Hughes and Convenors
Arts and Aesthetics Lecture Hall No. 101, SAA-I
Start time:
4 April, 2012 at 8:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Filmmaker/participant performative encounters suggest aesthetics of organization, affective relations and creativity combine, pointing to how dimensions of collaborative, reflexive filming and fieldwork could influence a broader research ethics in sensory ethnography.

Long abstract:

This panel seeks to identify aesthetics of practice as well as art form; characterized in affective relations, 'collaborative dynamics' and 'felt knowledge' between filmmaker and participants, particularly when craft or art is the subject (John-Steiner, 2000). Ethnographic filmmaking has distrusted aesthetic positioning, but following Ranciere (2004, 2006), aesthetics is political and some filmmakers integrate it with participants, environment, story, sense of place, weather phenomena, specific texture of objects and the vibrancy of material culture (Pinney and Thomas, 2001, Bennett, 2010, Ingold, 2011). Aesthetics can anchor identity and meaning, mobility and creativity through tacit or explicit 'aesthetics of organization' (Strati, 1999), a texture of 'knowing in practice' (Gherardi, 2006). This develops through the performativity of the filmmaking process, as much as tactical use of film sound, cinematography, editing, animation or storytelling. 'Haptic visuality' and affective regimes observed in experimental, intercultural documentary and diasporic storytelling try to enhance memory, or reclaim loss, via use of textural layering and shifting chronotopes (Marks, 2000, Naficy, 2001, Rutherford, 2011). The corporeal aspect of filmmaking addresses the moment of perception as experienced event and material capture (MacDougall, 2006). The vitality of this encounter, if understood, holds potential to integrate technological skill and ecological concerns (Abram, 1996). We encourage papers which present film or documentation of film work in process; and explore how sensuous and affective dimensions of reflexive or collaborative film work and non-text oriented artist fieldwork practices (Schneider and Wright, 2006), influence aesthetics and could be theorized in a broader research ethics, politics and practice.