nicole rademacher

Monday, March 17, 2008

Experimental Ethnography: Surrealist Ethnography Part One

same book. new chapter. more thoughts.

Surrealism dealt with the familiar and the strange, the exotic and the banal. check and check. these videos could be surrealist....

'objets trouvés' were appropriated and recontextualized. Yes these are 'found' people, not found footage. They, the subjects, are 'objets trouvés'.
Bataille's journal Documents dealt with the cultural and the collision. What is my collision? Anthropology uses 'arbitrary categorization'. How could it not be arbitrary? Is that possible?
My use of the familiar - imitating the family (vacation) home movie

Las Hurdes (1932) Buñuel

Russell writes 'Ethnographic surrealism was a short-lived moment, out of which ethnography, art, and surrealism "emerged as fully distinct positions." (Clifford) And yet their blurring constitutes a crucial historical conjunction. Its disruptive potential is both a reorientation of the avant-garde toward everyday life and a reorientation of ethnography toward cultural pluralism and hybridity.'
Rademacher translates: Ethnographic surrealism destinctly separated art from ethnography and surrealism within art. Yet before this occured was crucial because it allowed for the avant-garde to re-examine everyday life and invited ethnography to allow for cultural merging, to be hybrid/plural.

The videos tension/ambivalence between formal beauty and experiential/temporal unease.

The juxtaposition of the synthetic and contrived qualities of video and the 'home movies', aka real documented reality.

contrapuntal : sound-image; speed-sound : incongruous

What discursive levels am I building with?
  • duration
  • color
  • sound
  • speed
Are the viewers led to question their gaze (through my gaze)? To question their role as an observer/tourist/voyeur?

Play with the '(un)reliability of visible evidence, the discourse of power and subjugation through gaze, the role of the observer.

Are the viewers invited to participate intellectually? My commentary (through video manipulation) of the 'visual evidence'.

Russell writes '... a common strategy of ethnographic film by which the individual social actor becomes and illustration of an ethnographic principle.'
Rademacher translates: ... often a subject (person in the film/video) becomes an example of a principle or a stereotype by which to judge.

Framing People: Structural Film Revisited

Just some thoughts while I've been reading:
Structuralist films; techniques of observation; fixed frame; detail
Chantal Akerman - abstracting the act of perception from the act of seeing. ' people who are suddenly rendered marginal to one's own narrative. This is the space occupied by Akerman's authorial signature, the space of observing, looking out at others from an interiority that is just outside, at the margins of the visual field.
--How similar is that to what I am doing? What contradicts/plays with this idea of observing is the length of the videos. is that it? The space of observing the temporal space/duration is minimal requiring immediate attention.
How does my 'interiority' factor in? Longing ¿? The shortness of the videos also creates distance.
  • fleeting and unconnected
  • passive vs active seeing
  • observation and inquisition
  • visible and/or invisible camera
How am I using/pushing these ideas? Am I employing them at all? What was used while shooting vs while editing? How does the time of employment affect the _____?
'threatened by the presence of the camera' Are my found people threatened by the presence of the camera? Is it shocking that people 'didn't care' about the camera?
What type of gaze am I employing?
Are the camera positions familiar? casual? formal?
Am I imposing a view? If so what? and How?
Allegorizing the gaze . . . what does that mean?
'Uncanny hyperrealism' how does that inform these videos?
What is my principle device? duration? short duration?

I AM documenting. What am I documenting? While editing I search out gesture and create gesture, but what am I documenting?? rituals? casual rituals?

What is my stage?

How are these videos bordering on fiction? the edges between.
how are they evoking longing? are they evoking it or illustrating it?

What is the distance described by longing between me and these relationships.

(Ethnology) the minutiae of everyday life.
the short duration inscribes memory - a sense of ethnographic/mythic time - bordering on fiction.
I am transposing reality into the image - no I am transposing the reality IN the image.
what does transpose mean?
1 : to change in form or nature : transform 2 : to render into another language, style, or manner of expression : translate 3 : to transfer from one place or period to another : shift 4 : to change the relative place or normal order of : alter the sequence of <transpose letters to change the spelling> 5 : to write or perform (a musical composition) in a different key 6 : to bring (a term) from one side of an algebraic equation to the other with change of sign.
indexical and abstract. What? The gestures? Are they indexical? mmmm they do refer to one person, but to many... The gestures are/were fleeting. Does that make them abstract? I don't think they are abstract at all. They are specific: a hand or face gesture. The meanings can be a little abstract. Ah the meanings are indexical! Referring to particular meanings, BUT the reference could be less than opaque and more than transparent.


that is supposed to be a dotted/dashed line (neither opaque nor transparent).

literal and symbolic. yes. both.

playful tension between A and B. What are A and B?
          • unease and intimate gaze
          • ambiguous action/image and sound
          • ...........
I am challenging the spectatorship of the viewer: what these short videos and retain the information.

Through color/time shifts and other manipulation, the documentary and fiction are merged in the same frame, the same video.

ethnographic film uses the body as signifier. My gaze is feminine. Is that evident? How does that inform the work?

The videos dissolve representation into experience.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

other people's thoughts

from a mother to be and a non-artist

039 was frightening to [her]. the apathy that the woman had. and being forced to engage with her was painful.
Actually [she] found most of the videos made [her] uneasy and anxious.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

other people

063- what is intriguing about this video is that aspect of time, time being captured, that time that we tend to miss because it happens so quickly. im not so sure how i feel about the color. its just not doing anything for me, i do feel like its not supposed to be there. now i dont know what the piece is fully about but i feel like time and moments in time with the girl, young and vivacious, and for that wish we could at least have her in our view a bit more.
060- huh, state of confusion. with all the motion, with the little girl we not knowing who it is that she is looking at. and then where she is walking off to. i felt like i was left behind. i felt like the girl was at a state of confusion. its interesting that you have the little girl at the center of this shot, because is that what it really looks like to us when we are that young? how are we supposed to know exactly what the world looks like through that girls eyes. i think that its well balanced piece.
058- i dont know how i feel about this one. part of me is saying there needs to be more footage, otherwise less motion. i dont know what it is that you are trying to convey in this one. unless its about that emotion of having that hot sun down ontop of us and wanting to quit the hike.

from others

007: subtle, foliage
40 ok
42 good image
43 fantastic
45 nice simple
50 very much your style
51 nice juxtapositions
52 short and sweet
57 perfect sence of motion
58 visually striking
61 dunno what to say
62 smooth/dreamy
63 the best of all, great atmopheric sounds really brought me to another place!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


home is somewhere else when viewed from abroad.

the poetics of living. the poetics of family relations.

Through body gesture and video gesture I will illustrate the relationship between longing and distance and the roles protection/security, dis•connect, companionship, letting go, intimacy, and nurturing have in human familial relations.

These themes are subject to change, but reflect my current thoughts on these videos. Each video has at least one theme associated with it. The video either explicitly illustrates its corresponding theme(s) or responds to the sentiment of that theme(s). I have chosen these themes because I have found them to be truths through the analysis of my field research.

My field research consists of guerrilla-touristic video shooting. One can be a tourist within one's own culture as well as when traveling abroad. I have implemented these techniques in various settings. Using my curiosity and interest in physical interactions between loved ones as my point of departure. I have video-ed, guerrilla/clandestine or otherwise, families, children, and couples. Shooting has taken place anywhere from beaches to busy street intersections to remote mountain trails. In each segment of footage chosen for the videos I have, intuitively or consciously, noticed either a gesture or series of gestures that illustrate/encompass one of the chosen themes.

Once a segment of video has been chosen, I then experiment with revealing these gestures to you, the viewer. Through color and speed shifts, repetition and reversal, even stillness, I expand and compress these gestures. By means of these manipulations, I create short and extremely short videos, video gestures, which you the viewer can then interpret for yourself.

The length of the videos can be seen as a bit of game - Did you catch it? Did you get it? Nevertheless, its length is also imperative to the idea of gesture. Gestures are fleeting and temporal, expressing only a sentiment; therefore, these videos emulate that. Each individual video may not necessarily stand on its own, but once grouped with other videos presenting the same, or different, themes, the viewer will walk away with a sense with what I have been exploring and experimenting.

The composition of the multiple videos on one screen solidifies the themes, hence qualifying my claims. Each video bearing its own length is then combined with others of similar concepts therefore creating a montage effect and an immersive situation with the themes presented. While the projection may display one or many videos at any given moment, the small LCD screen is dedicated to individual videos, thus endorsing each one distinctively.

I see this installation and the research it has encompassed as experimental anthropology/ethnology video. I have manipulated video documentation of physical communication between family members; I am highlighting what I see as important in our interactions as a global society.

Longing and distance are what is consistently felt through these videos. They are a subconscious garnish. It is my sentimental longing for intimate relations with family members, not necessarily because I lack it, but because I feel that our society (Anglo-American) in particular lacks it as a whole. We lack the common and consistent physical manifestation of these gestures.