Multisensory and Interactive Photography: A New Form of Ethnographic Artefact
(University of Leeds)
Paper short abstract:
Photography in ethnographic study could be enriched by digital technologies to become both multisensory and interactive. Fieldwork techniques are proposed that facilitate an in-depth analysis of the relationship between the multisensoriality of experience, the sentient body and cultural phenomena.
Paper long abstract:
This paper asserts that photography in ethnographic study could be enriched by digital technologies to become both multisensory and interactive. New fieldwork techniques are proposed that allow for the creation of vivid, emplaced and individualised sensory experiences. These ethnographic artefacts facilitate an in-depth analysis of the relationship between the multisensoriality of experience, the sentient body and cultural phenomena. The theoretical framework for this paper is based upon the synthesis of three disciplines; sensory ethnography, cross-modal perception and environmental psychology. The fieldwork techniques incorporate panoramic photography, interactive authoring and binaural audio recording.
Building upon the foundational work of Sarah Pink and appropriating James J. Gibson's belief that "The single, frozen field of view provides only impoverished information about the world" (1986), the resulting artefacts are navigable multisensory environments. These artefacts offer greater proximity to the subject of study (Schneider, 2008), "bring forth qualities of the material world that would otherwise be left behind in conventional forms of inscription" (Witmore, 2004) and create "a repeatable event for study purposes" (Schafer, 1973).
These new fieldwork techniques are currently being implemented in an ethnographic study of Temple Works, a Grade I listed building in the south of Leeds. Originally constructed as a flax mill and once featuring the largest single room in the world, the building is now a cultural venue supporting a diverse community of artists, performers and musicians.
Photography, new technologies and the predicament of the frame: theoretical and methodological reflections