AVPhD Schedule

Sunday 30th January, 2011

Schedule

9.30-10.00am: Welcome/Introduction (Coffee/Tea)

10.00-11.25am: AVPhD Panel 1
Panel 1: Shared Authorship & Participation
Chair: Tony Dowmunt (Goldsmiths)
Anne Marie Carty (University of Manchester) Ethnographic Filmmaking: Issues of authorship, collaboration and responsibility in “insider” practice
Kirsten MacLeod (University of the West of Scotland) I film therefore I am: Process, Practice and Participation in Community based Filmmaking
Lucia King (University of London) The Warkari’s Journey- film poetics for a mass movement

11.25-11.35am: Break

11.35am-1.00pm: AVPhD Panel 2
Panel 2: Blurred Boundaries: Performance, Memory, Reflexivity
Chair: Zemirah Moffat (Kent)
Michael Atkins (University of Manchester) Just Walking Through: Representing the ambiguity of public sexual encounters
Eirini Konstantinidou (Brunel University) Mnemophrenia: a film where documentary meets science fiction
Reina-Marie Loader (University of Reading) Documemory: A Self-Reflexive Approach fusing the Real with the really Remembered

Abstracts

AVPhD Panel 1: Shared Authorship & Participation
Anne Marie Carty (University of Manchester) Ethnographic Filmmaking: Issues of authorship, collaboration and responsibility in “insider” practice
To whom are we as ethnographic filmmakers responsible when we set out to make films? To our subjects (or participants, collaborators, protagonists or characters,) to an “outsider” unacculturated audience, or to ourselves as artists? In this twenty minute paper I will use my experience of the Tir Cyffredin – Shared Land project, a series of six documentary films made in my home town in Mid Wales as part of a practice-based MPhil in Ethnographic Documentary, to consider the implications of this question when using film as a research methodology in one’s home setting. The field-site was a rural area in Mid Wales comprising roughly four different social groups, sharing a geographical space but socially fragmented, with underlying (if unspoken) resentments between them. I set out to make a highly authored, even poetic creative documentary about the area but soon discovered that my initial participatory approach conflicted with the detachment required to make an authored piece.

I will examine the process of detaching from my every-day home and social life in order to attain sufficient critical distance to identify characters and create the narrative required for these films to be comprehensible to an unacculturated “outsider” audience, alongside the effects of censorship exerted by both my friends/subjects and myself as a researcher living in the field site. Fear of being viewed negatively by other social groups in the area through the films’ exposure of their different lifestyles and beliefs made the ethical dimensions even more acute, raising questions as to how, and to what degree, can we ensure truly informed consent, alongside the impact on the structure and style of the films of allowing the subjects editorial control until the final stages of editing.

The research was an iterative process of reading/writing and filming/editing. Reading the literature assisted the detachment process and informed filming and editing throughout the research, and the filmmaking process generated knowledge through contact with the subjects. At times an observational filming approach allowed myself and other viewers to see new details in the editing process, prompting reflection and the abstraction of theory. At other times this viewing process undertaken with the films’ protagonists inspired deeper discussion of the situations and issues revealed by the film material, and the filmed documentation of these discussions was then used in the subsequent film versions. Whilst these added depth to the visual scenes and explored issues not immediately evident from the initial filmed material, the reality was that these reflexive practices became used as much to provide contextualisation and narrative development than as a means to allow collaboration and involvement in the filmmaking process.

Turning to MacDougall, Henley and Crawford for ideas around narrative and authored, experiential and immersive ethnographic filmmaking, to Rouch for an idea of “shared anthropology,” and to Elder for a consideration of collaborative filmmaking (via a consideration of Ruby’s calls for the foregrounding of reflexive strategies) I will ask whether – and to what degree – “collaborative” and “authored” filmmaking represent distinct forms of documentary practice.

Kirsten MacLeod (University of the West of Scotland) I film therefore I am: Process, Practice and Participation in Community based Filmmaking
This paper will explore examples of community-based media in Scotland, focusing on participation in the production process and the construction of identity and knowledge. Using a visual practice based methodology, the research focuses on fieldwork examples of community based, collaborative video production, in urban and rural areas of Scotland.
The paper is concerned with exploring community media as a transformative social process, a catalyst for new relationships, experience and knowledge about the world. It presents community documentary projects as a lens through which to explore issues of participation, representation, identity and knowledge within communities.
Taking a fluid approach to community as meaningful and symbolically constructed (Cohen), and to community media as covering a spectrum of media which serves, reflects or involves communities, geographically bounded, or of interest (Atton, Jankowski), this paper presents participation as part of an ongoing process of production, which lives on beyond the end product of the actual media itself, in the situated social experiences of its participants.
By examining the process of production, the research deconstructs the filmmaking process, exploring how people engage in filmmaking as participants, but also as members of the audience community. How meaningful is community media to communities who produce it, as a process and in the longer term once the end product is “out there”?
Through examples from Glasgow and islands on the West coast of Scotland, as well as broader trends in Scottish community media, the paper describes how community media channels the situated-ness of knowledge and identity.
The paper advocates a practice led methodology, where the research engages directly with the process of filming and draws reflexively and practically on the researcher and participants’ experiences.

Lucia King (University of London) The Warkari’s Journey- film poetics for a mass movement
Rajula Shah and I, Lucia King, (both filmmakers) collaborated on a documentary project based on a pilgrimage in which circa 1,000,000 pilgrims known as the Warkaris took part in Maharashtra, India. This folk movement celebrates a legacy of bhakti (Hindu) poet/saints dating back to the 12th century, and incorporates mass dances, musical entertainment and temple-based rituals during a three-week 250 km walk. Rajula Shah lives and works in Pune, India, and I am based in London.  The project falls under my ‘research-with-practice’ PhD at the Centre for Media and Film Studies, SOAS, University of London, and is also being developed as a touring video installation for gallery exhibition. In July 2010, we each shot (and are now editing) two separate video artworks to be screened as a twin project, each maintaining our different perspectives as artists of the same event.
Having numerous different starting points across three states, the pilgrimage was impossible to cover as a linear story. We therefore developed our own poetic narratives as an ongoing improvisation during the shoot. Faced immediately with the problem of being immersed in a sea of people that would create copious amounts of footage of a similar nature, we found strategies to work reflexively with the event. The situation provided a ‘moveable feast’ of public spaces that were continually assembled and erased serving for ritual/dance/entertainment purposes, but also to accommodate cooking, washing, eating and sleeping over a three-week period of intense activity. We found methods of how to engage with people that moved beyond the seeking of ‘testimonies’, exploring instead the corporeality of this giant, moving organism.
I am an artist/filmmaker with circa ten years’ experience of theatre and film-based collaborations with artists from India. My PhD focus is: “the post 1990’s generation of documentary filmmakers who are filming India’s orally transmitted folk performance forms”. The purpose is to understand how relationships between filmmakers and filmed subjects are being co-enacted. I am also analyzing how the distinct types of performances and on-camera relationships influence documentary film genres, looking at the ways in which ‘avant-garde’ South Asian filmmakers are imagining ‘traditional’ folk movements for audiences in India and abroad. I also lived and worked in India for five years, leading me to engage critically in the wider politics of intercultural collaboration as a part of my ongoing practice.

AVPhD Panel 2: Blurred Boundaries: Performance, Memory, Reflexivity
Michael Atkins (University of Manchester) Just Walking Through: Representing the ambiguity of public sexual encounters
I propose to make use of a combination of a visual collage of sketch and photography, a soundscape, and written material to explore my ongoing experiences of fieldwork around an area of Manchester where men seeking anonymous sexual encounters with other men. The majority of the work I that contributes to this performance dates from 2007 but connects with my current work for a PhD in anthropology with visual media that aims to use graphic novella, sound and other arts practice to engage with the worlds of cruising, socialising, sex work, and ‘grafting’ in the area, and the stories people tell around such activities.
The success of such encounters often requires being simultaneously discernible as available for sex and a legitimate (non-sexual) user of public space. Recognising each others’ availability for sex involves a highly nuanced understanding of each others’ visual characteristics, visible actions, speech location, and repetition of movement. One of the most striking features of these sexual encounters is the almost complete exclusion of voice from their negotiation.
Conventional textual description is unable to convey the subtle complexities of the visuality, visibility, and locative strategies participants employ. Furthermore, the potential for conventional documentary forms to expose participants’ involvement in an illegal and socially sensitive practice makes the use of film and photography ethically problematic. Representing these ambiguous ways of moving through the world, requires ethnographic forms of representation that blur the lines between anthropology, art and performance.
I employ a combination of participant observation virtual ethnography, sketchings, photography and sound recordings. This virtual engagement provided a means to elicit useful testimony about this often silent and anonymous practice; and collage enabled me to represent the important sensorial experience of such encounters without placing my informants or myself at risk. The simultaneous revelation of the sensory and textual recollections in the following performance, aims to allude to that which is more difficult to convey through any one particular stream of representation

Eirini Konstantinidou (Brunel University) Mnemophrenia: a film where documentary meets science fiction
Anxiety and fears about the weakening and even subversion of human memory by the media that support its representation are evident today. In the postmodern age, the image holds a prominent position and advanced technologies transform our sense of the world. The overshadowing of reality by images is part of Jean Baudrillard’s notion of the hyperreal, where the real has disappeared and the fascination with images and the representation without referent is the new postmodern ‘reality’. Photography and cinema are both connected to memory preservation and manipulation and belong somewhere between the myth of ideal life and lived reality.
Science fiction cinema has emerged as a privileged site for debates about memory, articulating those features which represent postmodern logic. My film, Mnemophrenia is a science fiction film that attempts to reveal the ways in which the film medium promotes artificial memories. A key research question of Mnemophrenia is what would happen if in a future postmodern society the Bazinian myth of ‘total’ cinema becomes a reality? The film explores the merging of reality and fiction by the fusion of science fiction and documentary, where the science fiction is supported by real science. The two genres are integrated and it is the deliberate play between factual and fictional modes of engagement which generates reflexive potential.
Documentary has relied on its close link with science for its continued authority and like science it has attempted to offer general truths about the human condition. “Beyond art, beyond drama, the documentary is evidential, scientific.” (Winston, 1995:127). In this paper I discuss its union with science fiction, which leads to a self-referential structure that comments on the film medium itself. Since we usually do not question the status of the scientist or expert nor the truthfulness of his/her account due to his/her official position, I interviewed real scholars, researchers and scientists, who explore the idea of mnemophrenia and its possible ramifications by commenting on a hypothetical future and playing along, behaving as if they live in that hypothetical future themselves. The documentary aspect of the film on one hand expresses the idea of objectivity and reality that contrasts with the postmodern hyperreality that it explores. The expositional mode of the interviews offers a reflexive commentary on the link of visual media and human memories and undermines any claims to truth.

References
Baudrillard, J. (1994). Simulacra and simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Winston, B. (1995). Claiming the Real. London: British Film Institute.

Reina-Marie Loader (University of Reading) Documemory: A Self-Reflexive Approach fusing the Real with the really Remembered
As part of my AHRC funded research project, I made a film about the war in Bosnia entitled Sarajevo: Shelved Memories. Essentially, the film is an experimental reflection on documented events that occurred during the siege of Sarajevo (1992-1995). Framed by the memories of two survivors (Vladan and Malcolm), their documented experiences present a noticeable tension feeding on conflicting emotions such as apathy and guilt, hatred and empathy, resolve and disillusionment, aid and exploitation. This problematic tension is consciously articulated within the film by theatrically re-creating the veterans’ memories and bringing these into a dialogue with archive footage and the interviews themselves. In this way the style of Shelved Memories draws specific attention to the nature of memory and human emotion confronted by the trauma of Europe’s most recent war.
As an alternative approach to the docudramatic genre, I will discuss my practice in terms of its fundamental character as a critical reflection on documentary and narrative production. With specific focus on the notion of the ‘documentary effect’ (coined by Andrew Britton), the paper will consider documentary production as a deliberate process ‘of selection, organisation and evaluation which are in principle no different from those involved in creating fictional film’.
Seen from this perspective, I will highlight the ways in which my practice attempts to reveal core ethical ambiguities connected to the media’s approach to the documentation of conflict as outside observers. However, my overarching intention is not to suggest that the media are inherently immoral and dysfunctional. I rather intend to explore the dangers of the mediated gaze in relation to the real when it is not approached reflexively and self-consciously.
In this light, I will suggest the value of a self-reflexive narrative approach that attempts to access the past by placing the memory of it into a historicised creative framework, which is shown to be deliberately constructed and performed. The concept of mediation will therefore find a specific focus in this paper, as I systematically reveal the construction of both the media images and the narrative images contained in my practical project.
I will do so by presenting a close analysis of the visual systems contained in the opening sequence of Shelved Memories. I will illustrate how these visual systems subsequently developed into a critical engagement with the idea of ‘on-looking’ as framed by a clearly defined historical event that was visually, politically and socially characterised by active and inactive observation.

Speaker Biographies

Anne Marie Carty
I trained in documentary filmmaking at the National Film and Television School and have for over twenty years had parallel careers in broadcast television, as a participatory video worker and as a video production trainer, with more recent teaching and research work. As a result of doing participatory video work in the valley in Wales where I have been living for the past sixteen years I wanted to further research the complex community dynamics of the “local” and “incomer” communities in the area. In an attempt to explore the use of collaborative filmmaking processes to make authored documentaries I embarked on a (recently completed) practice-based MPhil in Ethnographic Documentary at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology. This comprises five (soon to be six) documentary films and a companion text.

This research represented a major change in my working practice in that this was the first time I had chosen to make films within my home environment, and this ‘doing anthropology at home’ had a significant impact on my personal and social relations. Having focused closely on the needs of the participants I discovered that the resulting filmic output was not comprehensible or engaging for a wider, unacculturated audience. In order to gain sufficient critical detachment to achieve this I was forced to undergo a major transition from “insider” to “outsider.” In addition to the filmic and written ethnography, this work has allowed me to closely reflect upon the practical impact of this personal transformation on my filmic practice, and the value – and disruptions – of iterative writing and filming processes.

Lucia King
As a visual artist she has specialized in video installations for international exhibition and film festival release. Resident in the Netherlands for 11 years following her MA study at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, she moved to India (2000-2005) to direct performance and theatre projects. Her practice subsequently expanded through filmmaking to explore performers’ experiences as a ‘lens-based poet’, often in collaborations with performers and choreographers from India and the UK. Resident in London since 2006, she continues to make projects addressing the philosophy and practice of performance, all the while connecting this with her own studio-based practice of drawing (as an art form).  HYPERLINK “http://www.luciaking.co.uk”www.luciaking.co.uk
King’s PhD research at the School of Oriental and African Studies is on:
The relationship between avant-garde documentary filmmakers and their filmed subjects when filming ‘marginal’ oral traditional performance from India (1990-2010). This investigates…
Filmmaking strategies; how these construct particular relationships on camera /in production.
Perceptions of ‘modernity’ and ‘tradition’ between creative authors on both sides of the exchange (between filmmakers/folk artists)
Re-contextualization whereby such performance is altered by its dissemination through documentary.
The epistemology of bodily knowledge in the pro-filmic with reference to specific South Asian filmmakers being surveyed.
Kirsten MacLeod is a 2nd year PhD student at The University of the West of Scotland, where she Lectures in Television Production. She is a freelance Producer/Director in broadcast and community based media. She has an MA(Hons) Social Anthropology & Archaeology, University of Edinburgh (1991), and an MA (Econ)Visual Anthropology, Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester (1993).
She has worked in factual programming, recently producing for Gaelic language broadcaster, BBC Alba. Community-based projects have recently been based in Govan, Glasgow, including a senior citizens social history video project, The Govan Banners, (2010), linking local and Glasgow stories with the Spanish Civil War.
Her PhD research focuses on the production process in participatory, community based media and how projects both draw on and create identities and knowledge. She is interested in the social context of filmmaking, in notions and experience of community and how they are negotiated and expressed during and after the process of making media.
Her work takes a practice-based approach, producing “production ethnographies” of video projects in Govan, Glasgow and islands on the Scottish West coast. She aims to reflect critically on these methods, as a way of framing research.

Michael Atkins trained initially as a social worker, before studying for an MA in Visual Anthropology at Manchester University’s Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology in 2007. During my MA I began experimenting with collages of drawing, photography and sound as a form of ethnography that engages with the sensory worlds of informants, whilst concealing their identities and allowing a participation in the production process than conventional ethnographic writing. I am currently writing a PhD in Social Anthropology with visual media, exploring the tangles of commercial and non-commercial sexual encounters between men in public spaces and social places in Manchester. My work is particular focused on the experiences of men that frequent a stretch of canal that runs through Manchester city centre. Over the past three years I have been involved in this area; in social care outreach work, the production of ethnographic material and as a resident of the city centre.

Eirini Konstantinidou has a BSc in Economics (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki/Greece) and did an MA in Media and Communication (Fordham University, New York) as well as an MA in Film Studies (UCL, London). She has also received a film directing certificate from New York University. She has directed 4 short films, and her film “I love you…?” won first prize in the 2007 Thessaloniki Short Film Festival (previously known as AZA Digital Film Festival). In addition, the film “Snapshots” that she co-directed with Lorenzo Fabrizi and Robin King won the first prize at the Dorset Cereals Film Competition. 
Eirini is currently  working on her first feature script as part of her practice-based PhD studies in Film at Brunel. Her principal research interests lie in the field of science fiction film. She is investigating the filmic representation of artificial memories and their impact on personal identity. Her project is self-reflexive exploring these themes and their close relation to the medium of film. She intends to shoot a third of the film as part of her PhD.

Reina-Marie Loader is an AHRC funded PhD candidate in the Department of Film, Theatre & Television at the University of Reading. Her research is primarily based in practice and develops a critical argument relating to the role of memory in the docudramatic representation of real events. Her research includes a practice as research study focussed on the siege of Sarajevo in order to determine the impact of subjectivity and the media on the representation of traumatic memory. She has previously delivered papers at the Visual Evidence (2008, 2010) and Acting with Facts (2009, 2010) conferences.

Britton, Andrew. ‘Invisible Eye’, in Sight and Sound, March, 1992, p. 27.

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