Evolving humanity, emerging worlds
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
Anthropological visions. atlases of difference, multimedia arcades and non-linear arguments
Location Chemistry G.53
Date and Start Time 08 Aug, 2013 at 09:00
Collective representation and countervisuality feature prominently in current practices of visual research. We'll test the idea of the ethnographer as broker, mapper or architect rather than "auteur", using multi-sensory, multi-linear and multi-voice formats to enhance transcultural understandings.
This panel calls for reflections on methodological innovation, from collaborative film work (Engelbrecht, Crawford) to "transcultural partnership" (Walter).
Any "schooling of the eye" tells us about the hegemonic discourse of the social contexts in which it is implemented (Grasseni 2007). The ethnographic focus of this session is the ambivalent practice of competent visual knowledge in classifying and representing "others" and "self". Classifying at first encounter, just as much as being recognized and categorized, is part and parcel of an everyday ecology of culture for most persons' daily social life. Nevertheless, to recognize that stereotypes and discrimination are commonly practiced is a perilous exercise (Geschiere 2009). In fact, the current age of global heritage is characterized precisely by the intertwining of xenophobia, heritage discourse and a moral representation of collective memory.
From a stylistic and methodological point of view, we invite contributions that engage in "a re-focalization of the ethnographic gaze on the production of ideological sentiments" (Herzfeld 2012), based on active fieldwork and formal experimentation. The synchronous and open format of interactive/multimodal/multilayer productions encourages interdisciplinary cooperation and an attempt to think participatively and laterally. Can non-linear narrative and participative mapping negotiate the power imbalance and the multiple possibilities embodied in the representative process?
P.Crawford, B.Engelbrecht, Future Past - Cultural Heritage and Collaborative Ethnographic Film Work. Intervention Press, 2012.
P.Geschiere, The Perils of Belonging: Autochthony, Citizenship, and Exclusion in Africa and Europe. Chicago, 2009.
C.Grasseni, Skilled Visions. Between Apprenticeship and Standards. Berghahn, 2007.
M.Herzfeld, "Radici antiche, razzismi recenti", Xenoi, Cagliari, 2012.
Chair: Nadine Wanono
Discussant: Peter Ian Crawford
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
An audiovisual enquiry into Nature beyond Culture in a Norwegian mountain landscape
The project explores the mountain landscape of Hallingskarvet mountain range in Norway and indicates people´s presence within it. The processes of mapping, recordings and production of multi-media artworks aim to evoke non-verbal and sensory accounts of human - nature connections. It also reflects on the limits of mediation and the role of sound.
The project enquires into the conditions of humans as biological beings at the margins of human settlement. It is an audio-visual portrayal of the mountain landscape of Hallingskarvet mountain range in Norway that includes subtle indications of people´s presence.
The project counters modes of prior classification on humans in/and nature by rejecting stereotypes that frame mountain landscapes as "wasteland" or "sublime" and the hegemonic ideals of conquest and mastery.
Bodily practices and sensory engagement are ways for people to deepen awareness of their connection with the nature they are embedded in. The aim is to evoke these sensory textured experiences of connectedness by emphasising affect, the non-verbal and non-cognitive.
The landscape and "weather-world" is continually changing through daily cycles, seasons and weather conditions. People interact with the landscape in ways that engage their body and senses, like walking, climbing, skiing and resting, and their experiences may range between joy, comfort, threat and pain.
The project engages in processes of mapping, recording and production of multi-media artworks. The visuals are recorded with long shots of still frame, which set the soundscape to the foreground of attention.
It is also a reflection on the possibility to mediate physical reality, body practices and sensory experiences through a representational virtual medium like a two-dimensional screen. The suggestion is that sound may have a stronger impact than the visual.
Main theoretical inspirations are Massumi, Ingold, Næss and Schafer.
Working with art and ecology: Tools, toolkits and the trickeries of naming.
Emerging from the interstices of contemporary art & ecology, this paper focuses on a creative workshop, experimenting with 'messy' methods and correspondences between art & anthropology, and critiquing aspects of policy making.
Working from the interstices of contemporary art and ecology, this paper grounded in an anthropological inquiry into how art came to be made in forests and debates around 'environmental' art and ways of producing 'nature'. It will focus on one of many 'creative' workshops I ran, experiments in alternative 'messy' methods (cf Law, 2010) and research into correspondences between art and anthropology. It developed from frictions I encountered, owing to the ambiguity of my role with the Forestry Commission, as well as around my status as artist or anthropologist. The workshop drew diverse perspectives of artists and foresters together within a deliberately poetic space - also an installation - to explore the value of forests, the role of art, and policy governing art's commissioning.
Foresters manage landscapes and negotiate publics over remarkably long time frames, using 'best practice' policy and 'tool kits' to 'balance' 'constraints and opportunities'. Sometimes these entail incongruous categorisations, eg of artist 'types' I argue that, rather than a providing guide for future projects, this legitimises past actions, circumscribing perceived failures. I suggest another way of thinking using 'ecologies of practice, aimed at " the construction of new possibilities [...], in other words, to connect." (Stengers,2005) to make space for creative interventions in decision making,what I call 'speed-bumps' attempts to 're-function' ethnography, through working with art (cf Marcus &Rabinow, 2008). This is part of working towards a more accepting approach to ecology, which incorporates friction, and failure, but works to keep conversations going.
Talking Heads, Talking Objects: Framing Memory Through Film
This paper discusses a range of experimental methodologies and strategies I use in my film, Memory Objects, Memory Dialogues (26', 2011), to explore the complex, elusive, and fragmentary nature of individual and collective remembrance work in contemporary post-communist Romania.
This paper discusses a range of methodologies and strategies I use in my film, Memory Objects, Memory Dialogues (26', 2011), to explore the complex nature of remembrance work in contemporary post-communist Romania. This experimental film (directed in collaboration with visual artist Selena Kimball) attempts to evoke Benjaminian "thought images" of the past, through 16mm stop motion animation, split-screen projection, and visually interrupted, non-linear narratives. By juxtaposing a looping sequence of animated objects with a series of fragmented talking-heads interviews, it aims to destabilize the idea of collective memory as a coherent, single, over-arching account. Rather than documenting or illustrating people's memories, it evokes the partial, non-linear, elusive, and often-contradictory nature of the act of remembering in itself. In this split screen installation, individual and collective memories diverge and intersect, giving a poignant and humorous glimpse into how people are currently looking back at 45 years of communist rule in Romania.
Organizing Complexities: The Potential of Multi-Screen Video Installations for Ethnographic Representation
This paper discusses recent multi-screen video installations that express the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of transnational migration. It ties into a renewed anthropological interest in the modernist technique of montage.
The increasing complexity of transnational migrations inevitably has led to considerable shifts in anthropological theory, in the discipline´s conceptuation of space and time. Cultural interactions in today´s postcolonial world inevitably involve a multiplicity of places and different temporal and spatial scales. For their migrant subjects, this results an overall feeling of dislocation and asynchronism. Diasporan worlds have emerged, shaped by, but independent from the mere movement of people.
This paper is concerned with the problem of how to represent these migratory movements, how to find adequate images for transnational mobility. Therefore, it explores novel ways of exhibiting ethnography. I specifically engage with the constructivist representational practice of montage that recently has received renewed attention among anthropologists as an analytical tool to compare, juxtapose, and relate different cultural geographies (Suhr/Villerslev in press).
I will discuss recent multi-screen video installations as an aesthetic form that puts forward non-linear arguments by expanding the cinematic technique of montage into the physical exhibition space. The works of artists Ursula Biemann, Angela Melitopoulos, or Multiplicity Group all render visible global relations in their systemic complexity and thus articulate spatial and temporal heterogeneity beyond the misé en scene of the single field site.
I further present my own two-screen installation " A Tale of Two Islands", a work that focusses on the border regime separating the French island Mayotte from its African sister island Anjouan, both geographically part of the Comoros. It renders visible the lifeworlds on both islands on two opposing screens thereby exploring this postcolonial space by giving the spectator access to a multiplicity of perspectives.
South of the Clouds - Indigenous ways of seeing
Since the 1980s/1990s, Indigenous filmmaking and Community based Video ( Visual) Education Projects are becoming more and more the focus of media activities by Indigenous ethnic groups as part of their struggle against hegemonic global media representations of their own culture.This paper introduces the The Yunnan - Vietnam Community Based Visual Education and Communication ( CBV) Project 2006-2009 the first of its kind in China
Since the 1980s/1990s, Indigenous filmmaking and Community based Video ( Visual) Education Projects are becoming more and more the focus of media activities by Indigenous ethnic groups as part of their struggle against hegemonic media representations of their own culture.Over more than two decades,anthropologists, communication scholars, documentary filmmakers and indigenous media activists have started to work together with local indigenous groups and communities,to technically support and to develop a common platform for human rights and indigenous rights advocacy and to develop indigenous filmmaking activities.Indigenous filmmaking activities and Community based Visual Education and Communication projects amongst the so-called "National Minorities" in China only started in the early 21st century. Scholarly work on these indigenous media projects in China was also completely inexistant. This paper tries to fill this gap by introducing the Yunnan & Vietnam Community Based Visual
Education and Communication ( CBV) Project 2006-2009, the first of its kind in China.
LA VIE DU RAIL. Dehierarchization and participation in ethnographic research through interactive media representations
LA VIE DU RAIL / www.laviedurail.net is an interactive website retracing a railroad track in Mali. It perceives informants, researcher and recipients as subjects of a transcultural space, reducing preset prioritizations through non-hierarchized interaction with different media elements.
"LA VIE DU RAIL. A railway line in Mali as transitory space" retraces the Malian part of the former Dakar-Niger railway line integrating diverse forms of media. Based on anthropological fieldwork, it draws out the interaction of individuals and circumstances as participants of constant transit. Audio-visual methods are being combined with text in order to preserve the complexity found in the field. The depiction that is being created avoids to decide for a prioritary form of approach but is only structured by the linearity of the train tracks. An individual travel through the material can be perceived by traversing various stations of the train. The permanent movement of transit at the same time results in the stability of the people working in the train. The lives of these such as the inhabitants along the railway line are the central moment of the project. Personal narratives and observations feed the reflections on spaces, non-spaces and transitory spaces. The potential of non-linear linkage between the media elements through html-programming has been sought as a substantial factor for dehierarchizing representation aswell as interactive perception. In a short film at the beginning of the interactive website the camera converges with a form of life that is subject to rifts of loss and nostalgia as well as renewal and dynamics.
LA VIE DU RAIL reflects on those issues of transitoriness while submerging into the quest of positioning oneself as anthropologist within a tradition of scientific work.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.