This course is mainly concerned with critical and creative explorations of anthropological ways of knowing and experiencing the world. This includes topics concerning the access to invisible yet still identifiable and socially relevant realms – such as, for example, religious experiences, sexuality, precarious living conditions, etc. etc.. Are there ethnographic approaches that are particularly suited to elicit and communicate unarticulated experiences and concealed understandings of the world? What methods and media techniques would be most appropriate to unearth such realms? Which aesthetic practices are aimed at the description or mimetic replication, and which ones at the construction or creation of (a new) reality or experience? In this course we discuss these and other question that directly aim at the more-than-representational power of ethnographic inquiry on the basis of various media examples and with regards to selected research projects by members of the group. Media example and research methods may include techniques such as re-enactments, staged encounters or participatory approaches that playfully blur the distinction between fact/documentary and fiction. A focus will be on experimental formats such as essayfilm, photofilm and multimedia performances.
Mindful of the preparation for your practice-led MA theses, this course will draw on qualitative research, methodologically-informed by multivocality and montage, in addition to presentations by members of the group. Proposing critical and ethical considerations regarding representation, theoretical understandings with particular reference to the culture of power, the overarching agenda is to assist in the clarification towards the formulation of a critically informed, engaged and responsive fieldwork framework.
A camera and microphone work at the speed of light and sound, not only framing what occurs in front of the lens and around the pick-up but also preserving the embodied reactions of the filmmaker. The filmmaker develops a sense of proximity in the film by participating in the confusion that surrounds human action and in their attempts to involve the audience in an understanding of how fieldwork experience unfolds. Filmmaking for fieldwork is thus an empirical art that uses new avenues in anthropology and documentary film practice to extend an understanding of our fieldwork collaborations by dramatic means.
In this class, which accompanies the process of preparing your MA theses, we look at the relationship of photographic and ethnographic practice and anthropological theory. Visual anthropology in particular is an experimental field where there is no standard solution to finding the right combination of theoretical and methodological experiment and of saying something about the world and the human condition. In this class we therefore take up specific examples (including your own) of what ethnographic research and anthropological theory can and need to accomplish, and what photography and other visual methods can do to say something that could not otherwise be said about the world. In the process, we will also take up the question about what photography as a social practice can tell about being in the world in a given place and time.
Through an exploration of current trends in the grey zone between art and anthropology we will debate the possibility of going beyond representation and contextualization in Visual Anthropology. It will discuss the possibilities of multi-sited and auto- ethnography. This course we will elaborate on theories developed by Catherine Russell, George Marcus, and Chris Wright.
Most importantly, through examples we will discuss how to evolve from an idea, an intention for a project to concretely developing it into the process of filmmaking via a focus on the relation form - content, and image-sound.
As soon as we adopt the rules prescribed by production and multimedia we are wandering in a space, which introduces us to conditions of experience. Deleuze explained: "...the condition must be a condition of real experience, not of possible experience. It forms an intrinsic genesis, not an extreme conditioning. In every respect, true is a matter of production, not of adequation". Difference and Repetition (Gilles Deleuze 1968-154) In short, Deleuze's response to Kant and Hegel is not a return to classical empiricism or the primacy of the actual in sense experience. He argues that experience itself is the result of a genesis that is both creative and open, and which contains its own necessity. We will focus on code as a possible language for representing the complex realities we faced during our fieldwork as a visual anthropologist. We will leave the "cinema as machine of the visible as Comolli once phrased it" (Parikka 2012-35), to integrate code as a possible language to reveal invisible manifestations or relations.
Building upon Marcos Novak's conceptual proposition of "transvergence" (2002), we will examine different possibilities of modeling and simulation, which now offers us access to "apodictic aesthetic". This research on code, its utilisation and the multiple modeling that we could work on, gave us access to these new forms of representation and helped us modify our approach in order to propose an innovative relationship between "documented realities and their audio-visual interpretation" (Wanono 2012-4). As anthropologists and filmmakers, digital programming provide us the opportunity to create ways of representing the invisible through software « visibly invisible or invisibly visible essence »(Chun 2010-35). When Chun (2008-70) identifies the « code as re-source », positioning an «interface as a process rather than as a stable thing », it resonates with Simondon and the concept of individuation. In Mode of existence of technical object, the author explained: “ ...the machine is an alien; it is an alien that has something of the human is locked in, unrecognized, materialized, enslaved, but human nonetheless. The most powerful cause of alienation in the contemporary world resides in this failure to understand the machine, which is not caused by the machine but by the non-understanding of its nature and its essence, by its absence from the world of meanings, and by its omission from the table of values and concepts that are part of culture.”...“The real improvement of machines, that which can be said to raise the level of technicity, has nothing to do with an increase in automatism but, on the contrary, with the fact that the functioning of a machine conceals a certain margin of indeterminacy. It is this margin that allows a machine to be sensitive to outside information”.
We will examine different productions/ installations, which could illustrate this position in order to give to the student references and insights for their master thesis project.
Rituals give sense to social life in all human cultures. In this class, we will examine how an attention to ritual might help us structure our filmmaking and writing practice.