From Franziska Weidle:
From May 9th to 10th 2016, a student workshop on “Visual Anthropology and the work of David MacDougall” co-organized by the Department of Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology and the Centre for Modern Indian Studies took place at the University of Göttingen, Germany. In the panel discussion on “New Forms of Ethnographic Film: Contemporary Perspectives”, Docuverse’s very own Franziska Weidle presented her work on “Unreliable Narration in Ethnographic Film” (forthcoming) as well as her PhD research on Interactivity and Documentary Knowledge.
Together with David MacDougall, adjunct professor at the Australian National University, and Michael Westrich, PhD candidate in Visual Anthropology at FU Berlin, she discussed how the camera can unfold as a research tool to show social dynamics because either it lends itself to the negotiation of their specific characteristics or it is already part of their logics. Depending on the social aspects, the protagonists, as well as the epistemological interest in question, the panelists agreed that it is time to further investigate the role of the camera and film as an intervention and irritation-device. Furthermore, it was suggested to take under consideration what other film genres, but also literary or even musical forms and technology can offer visual anthropology and ethnographic filmmaking. If our realities become more and more complex, fragmented and strongly informed by and entangled with digital media for instance, it is crucial to find a corresponding form to negotiate this experience of reality with the protagonists themselves as well as the audience.
David MacDougall highlighted how his approach to filmmaking had changed over the years towards a more deductive process in which the camera functions as an extension of the filmmaker and should, therefore, be present in the field from day one. He also commented on two almost opposing strategies of how film could engage more effectively by either generating more complex structures and interweaving different thematic and stylistic structures on the one hand, or returning to the origins of a more simple and literal cinema, on the other, without superimposing any kind of interpretative structure at all.
Photos by Oliver Becker