How to express the unsayable and uncertain in visual terms? This panel concerns the capacity of images, especially moving images, to express the disquiet of observed situations. In this context, a critical inspiration from contemporary video art can imply a renewal for anthropological vision.
How to express the unsayable and uncertain in visual terms? This panel concerns the capacity of images, especially moving images (film), to express the disquiet of observed situations.
But can altered images of reality promote new avenues for research in anthropology ? Certain audiovisual techniques provoke new sensations which permit to reveal things and situations which so far were imperceptible or even invisible. For example, through the deliberate use of slow or fast motion certain emotional states reveal new perspectives to the researcher, and are indicative of the experience of 'compressed' or 'expanded' time. In this context, anthropological research and visual anthropology practice can learn from contemporary artists, especially those working with film and video. Thanks to the diffusion of portable cameras, and the montage techniques of performative films, contemporary video art proposes new modes of observing 'reality'. Multiple screens, the use of surveillance cameras and the minute study of facial expressions through extreme close-ups (as in the work of Bruce Nauman), the use of looped films, the cameraman as an 'audiovisual writer' and the camera as a 'pen'-like visual recording and writing device (caméra stylo), as well as slow and fast motion, are all techniques which not only challenge anthropology's methods of observation but also the research subjects anthropologists are working with in the field. Experimental practices thus can renew anthropological vision.