Making Sense of Pix & Vids

I’m spending the next couple of weeks going through the process of video editing and bringing together the photographs my group took before Christmas. We sat together last week and chose which ones they wanted to put into a structured format and whether there were any words they wanted to add to the images. Because of this I have gone back to Gillian Rose’s Visual Methodologies book and her useful overview of how to analyse different types of visual materials through different lenses. The description of compositional interpretation which has traditionally been developed in art historical contexts is something I’ll use. It makes sense to take time in looking at what is in these pictures and while I know a snap shot is different to a painting or a highly staged photograph taken by an artist, the process of compositional interpretation means taking time to look and process what is going on in the images. In addition there are some images of children and families that I won’t be able to include in publications so having a good solid description of them will just help being them to life in words in the longer term. Rose also usefully categorizes what she sees as key to anthropological methods in emphasising materiality, performativity and mobility as key concerns, working reflexively with empirical data rather than pre-constituted categories and suppositions outlined in the social sciences, such as those proposed by Discourse Analysis and Audience Studies.

Picking up on Laura Marks book again on Intercultural Cinema also as a framework to describe strategies of making visual images that come from a more critical position. She describes it like this:

‘Intercultural Cinema is characterized by experimental styles that attempt to represent the experience of living between two or more cultural regimes of knowledge, or living in a minority in the still majority white, Euro-American West. The violent disjunctions in space and time that characterize diasporan experience-the physical effects of exile, immigration and displacement-also, I will  argue, cause a disjunction in notions of truth. Intercultural films and videos offer a variety of ways of knowing and representing the world. To do this they must suspend the representational conventions that have held in narrative cinema for decades, especially the ideological presumption that cinema can represent reality (Mercer 1994b, Deleuze 1986). Formal experimentation is thus not incidental but integral to these works. Intercultural cinema draws from many cultural traditions, many ways of representing memory and experience, and synthesizes them with Western cinematic practices.’ P1

Marks works with Deleuze’s notion of ‘time-image cinema’ that characterises a particular period of emergent European postwar cinema practice by artists such as Godard, Rosselini, Antonioni that moved away from causal narrative to visceral and affection-images. She sees this as key for defining not just a postmodern, but a postcolonial turn in cinematic practice which Marks claims Intercultural Cinema extends.

I haven’t really got my head around all of this yet though, but she describes in her reading of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia that dominant discourses are not ‘just restrictive but enabling’ and relates this to how practitioners engaging in intercultural cinematic practice work.

‘While they limit what can be said, they also provide the only language in which to say it. In order to find expression, emerging thoughts and things must speak in the terms of the discourses that are established, though at the same time they break away from them. Political (indeed any) change must be effected in a sort of a dance between sedimented, historical discourses and lines of flight, between containment and breaking free. This is the act of archaeology: combining elements from different strata in order to resist the order that would be imposed by working on one stratum alone (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 503), knowing that the result will be contradictory and partial.’ p28

These ideas need more working through in terms what I have been working on, but thought this idea of working with a set of discourses and moving out from those to generate something more ‘contradictory or partial’ is recognisable within the artists films Marks discusses. I’ve just got to work out if this might be a useful strategy to act on in terms of design???


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