ASA Conference 2004, Durham - Locating the field

Moving image

A methodology for the study of inscriptive practices

Raymond Lucas, University of Aberdeen

In response to the conference’s themes of virtuality and methodology, I propose to present some of my work for my thesis entitled ‘Towards a Theory of Inscription as a Thinking Tool.’

The virtualities I speak of are not those of the screen and cyber-space, but the much more fundamental virtualities of the sketch, the drawing, the notation, and the diagram. I will present the unique ‘fieldwork’ which has been essential for this study.

I have drawn upon my background in the study of architecture to this end. As a practitioner of architecture in its widest sense, I have embarked upon inscription projects that I can reflect upon theoretically, and inscription projects which can, indeed, be regarded as theory in and of themselves.

I will present a selection of these projects, and intend to show how they explore the potentially permeable barrier between different disciplines, whilst still maintaining and respecting different disciplines for what they are.

One example of this methodology is a series of around 40 drawings, entitled ‘Getting Lost in Tokyo’. This drawing series worked with Shinjuku Station in the Tokyo Subway, and rendered it first as a diagram; then as notation; and finally as an architectural drawing.

This process added value at each iteration- so that the final architectural drawing bore no direct physical relation to the original space, rather approaching it on the terms of my spectatorship apparatus. This process bears some interesting fruits when analysed as a theory, exposing the relationships between diagrams, notations and drawings.

The theory illuminated by inscription is not merely reflexive: informing only the theorising of the process of drawing itself. It has, thus far, generated positions towards Benjamin’s flâneur; filmic theories of spectatorship, and Bergson’s dealings with time and memory.

Raymond Lucas is a PhD researcher at the department of anthropology, University of Aberdeen, and a member of the Creativity and Practice research group supervised by prof. Tim Ingold, which links anthropology at Aberdeen with fine art in Dundee. I have a background in architecture, having achieved the degree of MPhil for research in Film and Architecture at the University of Strathclyde.

Portable territory and cameraderie ~ the locality context for an ethnography of cinematographers in film production

Cathy Greenhalgh, London College of Communication Media School, University of the Arts London (formerly LCP, London Institute) 

Anthropologists question locating a field by place and ‘habitus of collectivity’ when studying ‘moble individuals, disperse or fragmented social networks’ and ‘ethnographers may seek to leave the field’ but it has ‘become incorporated into their biographies, understandings and associations’ (Amit, 2000). This paper relates to research carried out at Shepperton Studios and Camerimage festival in Poland, for a multi-locale ethnography of feature film cinematographers. The researcher knows the film industry milieu, set culture, technology and protocol well, but experienced culture shock re-entering as an ethnographer. An immersed participant observer researcher (a cinematographer and teacher of the practice), within a “seeping” field, with mobile informants provided a rich dialogue on the notion of location as subject and metaphor.

The cinematographer is one of the principal team who work with the director. The focus is agency and practice in the cultural production of a creative collaborative art form, i.e. making a film in an industry which has specific cognitive, cultural, power, technological and economic dynamics. The industry is characterised as ‘project based work’, within a freelance labour market, supported by ‘dense networks of contacts’ , and ‘semi-permanent work groups’ who move from production to production (Daskalaski and Blair, 2002). Cities such as Los Angeles or London provide ‘latent pools’ of potential resources and distributed networks; technology, people and tacit expertise on which the business relies (Grabher, 2001).

Deleuze and Guattari, state ‘How…important it is when chaos threatens, to draw an inflatable, portable territory’ (1987). A paradigm of portability underpins the cinematographer’s nomadic view of him/ herself at work; moving from location to location, changing climates and environs, meeting diverse peoples. Where possible, they create camaraderie by working with regular crew. In a carnivalesque act; real worlds are made artifice and “returned to normal” after filming. On location real places are treated as the fictitious place in the script. In the studio, sets replicate real places or simulate fantastical worlds. The cinematographer appropriates space, choreographing bodies and technology; “cheating” (to use filmmaking parlance) to camera lens, lighting and movement.

Postcolonial globalism to be balanced in Goa

Bauer S, Spiess K, Reichert R, Bernatzik B, Dalpra M, Luis Z, Vienna University

Postcolonial globalism and medical colonialism have allowed for a movement around the world of many sorts of “goods”. In our video we document the wedding celebration between a Goan and a European and the behaviour of bride and groom and compare it with the interaction of a Goan lymphocyte and a standardized antigen cell (HTB 131) cultivated in Los Angeles and distributed to India by the American Type Culture Collection Center (ATTC). We focussed on transitional ‘trickery’ used in the Goan village Anjuna by the European the Goan during their wedding celebration and ‘tricky escape’ mechanisms between the American antigen cell, sent to India to measure lymphocyte activity of a Goan suffering from cancer. The intruders mask themselves by heaping molecules from their hosts into their surface to avoid identification. To ensure their altered identities, to balance the foreign and to navigate through recognition and adaptation processes they use matrices, imaging, mirrors and cameras.

The video deals with the question how phenomenological dimensions of fieldwork practices may be transformed and adapted to multi-sited and fluid social, physical and biological localities (The Anjuna Balance, Video, 15 minutes)