“Why Does This Happen?” awarded at Futures of Visual Anthropology

VAST AwardMy mash-up film, “Why Does This Happen?” was awarded the “Best Super-Short” prize at the 2014 Futures of Visual Anthropology conference at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, April 3-4.

The conference was excellent overall, with a mixture of film, installation and interactive work. Most drew on traditional ethnographic approaches while also pointing towards innovations via consideration and use of social media spaces; creative soundscape and image-based projects. Particularly useful were reassessments and critical appraisals – both explicit and tentative – of “participatory” research…

The keynote from Krista Harper reminded us to actively and critical reflect on the meaning of “participatory” work. Otherwise, we’re in danger of simply paying lip-service to a great idea. Harper’s presentation reminded me of Sara Perry’s insights into the importance of attribution and fair use in anthropology and archaeology. A provocation emerging from Harper’s presentation was how to choose between the imagery that is most “artistic” and that which prompts the most debate between, or is most meaningful to participants when (re)presenting projects. Harper’s overview of current innovations and experiments in visual anthropology – perhaps especially because they came from a self-professed unofficial visual anthropologist, unfettered to orthodoxy? – was exciting. For me, at least, it’s already prompted a tweak of current activities, in the field.

Watch: “Why Does This Happen?”

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