L109
Visual anthropology without a camera

Convenors:
Jacek Wajszczak (University of Warsaw)
Stream:
Labs
Location:
S-233
Start time:
3 August, 2014 at 11:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

What to do when using a camera during ethnographic research creates boundaries between you and the others? For practical answer we'll put our cameras aside and try to use other fine arts techniques.

Long abstract:

Ethnographers and cultural anthropologists have been using photography for a long time. At the beginning mostly for documentation, now it's more often also used as an equal research tool. Nowadays, not much social research is conducted without using or referring to photographic images or movies. This seems to support Susan Sontag's claim that we live in the times of image and visual culture. Photography is so popular because we think that it preserves the important events and people in our lives, that it can reflect every human feeling, and is able to speak directly to our emotions. Nonetheless in some situations the camera seems to be too intrusive and out of place, to create distance, and to influence reality rather than just to reflect and portray it. During this lab we will attempt to address these problems. I will suggest leaving cameras and reaching for the fine arts techniques such as graphics and drawing. Note that I don't intend to take the luddites approach - fight with the machines and step back 200 years to the pre-photography era. I would like to focus on practical reflections on photography and to encourage to be open to other methods of picturing, creatively describing and interpreting reality. Practically we will split into two groups. One takes cameras (or mobile phones, ipods etc.) , the other uses just paper and pencils. Both groups will do ethnographic visual research on the campus. Afterwards we will compare our results, observations and impressions.