Monday, July 30, 2012

Roles within the Ethnography Stages

             There are several roles in the process of presenting the social interactions between people and objects during the ethnography stages. This final blog post for the July series is not intended to portray the observational methods in the anthropology and fine art discipline roles. These discipline roles will be addressed in my methodologies essay. My focus is on the roles within the ethnography process and the transition of the roles and methods during my collecting process for the collections project. 
            The beginning observational methods, as in ‘fieldwork,’ have objective and subjective dichotomies. I acknowledge these dichotomies, which are parallel with the crossing borders of the anthropology and the fine art discipline.[1] Beginning with the aspect of the subjective I will keep with the intended focus of the blog as mentioned. I am personally from the current Western Culture and engage with objects from it. The objective of the project and the purpose of the use of material culture methods in my collecting process are to perceive how fundamental the interaction between a person and an object is to consistent consumption in the material world. Since I do not engage with all the objects from Western Culture, I am inquiring with others who have experience with objects that I am not that familiar with. This aspect of the collecting process is where the different roles emerge with the stages of my ethnography process. 
            The general progress of my ethnography stages within my research and practice are observation, first stage recordings of observations and experiences, and staged recording of the social interaction. The observation and first stage recording are overlapped with note taking, research experience with the object, and understanding the details of the experience from the social interaction. When I am observing my own interaction, I am in the dual role of the participant of the ethnography process as well as the ethnographer. Referring to Sarah Pink’s proposal of rethinking participant observation of a multisensory experience, she states, “Thus the notion of ethnography as a participatory practice is framed with ideas of learning as embodied, emplaced, sensorial, and empathetic, rather than occurring simply through a mix of participation and observation.”[2]  In my dual role I am focused on the bodies interaction with the object without an environment. The roles of participant and ethnographer are integrated because of my experience with an object and through the ethnography, revealing of knowledge concerning the sensory experience and the stages of the interaction.
            The dual role experience offers a reflexive process developing ethnographic knowledge[3] for the second role. The second role is the ethnographer. This role occurs singularly when I am observing a participant other than myself performing the social interaction with an object. Observing, note taking, and interviewing are the methods employed before the staged recording of the social interaction with the participant. A current example of employing the role of ethnographer with a participant is demonstrated in a July 2012 recent addition video clip to the Mouth Collection. The observation was of a gentleman smoking his tobacco pipe. I have no experience with a pipe except that I can visually identify the object. My experience with the reflexive process pertaining to ethnographic knowledge contributes to my interviews and observations to stay focused on the participant’s body and the object. These questions refer to the sensory experience and the bodily movements of the social interaction. The participant’s verbal description and physically displaying the movements brings an understanding to the documentation of the staged recording. For example the pipe smoker described his movements with his pipe in hand as being slow and in short lengths away from his mouth. This understanding of movement of body and object established the framing of the clip to have a close up representation for the restaging process.
            The roles in the staged recording process range from videographer, performer, and curator. Currently, the one role that changes within this process is the performer aspect. I am the performer when I am the participant/ ethnographer of the ethnography process. The consideration for the presentation of the documentation (video clip) of the performers role persuaded me to restage the recording process. To restage a social interaction implies enabling me the ability to tightly frame the video clip and remove the environment. This approach brings a visual focus to the verbal and written description from the first stage of recording of the observations. 
             I am not acknowledging these roles as pseudo characters to contribute to my creative process, but as ‘working’ roles within my art practice to develop knowledge and exposure to multiple perspectives.             
            To view the clip and the July 2012 Recent Additions of the Mouth Collection please visit the website.

[1] Arnd Scheider and Christopher Wright, Contemporary Art and Anthropology (Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2006), 24 - 27
[2] Sarah Pink, Doing Sensory  Ethnography (London: SAGE Publication, 2009), 63 - 64
[3] Ibid 63

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Presenting Social Interactions in the Form of a Collection

          The collection themes were considered by using my academic and experiential research of the social interaction between a person and an object. These themes evolved from ‘fieldwork’ and observations of daily activities with objects. I am interpreting the collection themes with the context of present day consistent consumption in the material world. My reference of the material world is objects of the western culture.
            Currently, there are four themes in the collection, represented with the medium of video. These themes were considered from the functionality of the object, possible daily use in present day society, and the role of the body interacting with the object. The collection themes are as followed with a brief content description.

            - Screwdriver Collection
The Screwdriver Collection visually represents the use of a singular object to carry out multiple tasks.           

            - Can Opener Collection
The Can Opener Collection visually represents the tangible and intangible work processes to open the lid on a tin can. The tangible work is the result of the main outcome, to open the lid of a can. The intangible work is the knowledge of the process to use the tool to open the lid.

            - Interaction With Color Collection
The Interaction With Color Collection presents the role that color represents within specific types of activities, characteristics of an object, and the human body as an object.

            - Mouth Collection
The Mouth Collection visually represents the dual functionality of this body part with individual consumption of substance and interaction with objects.

            These themes are the initial stage of my collections, which are presenting the types of social interactions between person and object. I am grouping the social interactions by a detailed element of a multisensory experience. These groupings are organized and exhibited on a monthly recent addition basis on my website. Social media is the medium for the main viewing area of the collections in the intangible public domain.
             I view the social media in offering flexibility in presenting a collecting process that I consider to be a continual act. I have considered the intersection of the methods used to contribute to the medium of video that is used to present the social interactions between people and objects. The analysis of these intersections of methods, such as observations and forms of written documentation, implies the details of each social interaction range in elements with the multisensory experience. An example of the range is the Screwdriver Collection tends to have no visual representation to taste, where the Mouth Collection has a direct link to taste. Considering this analysis, I am presenting one collection theme to group the multisensory and the symbolic of an object within the Interaction With Color Collection. As the collection develops as a whole with recent additions the obvious analysis is how will these methods contribute to future additions and themes of the collections. Since my analysis is largely based on my own interactions, I would like to gain knowledge from this current analysis to provide an understanding and continue the process of documenting others with their objects and social interactions.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sensory Ethnography and The Archive and Management Process

            The sensory ethnography methods provide a resource for the archive and management of the video clip segment of the collection. Written documentation and still photos of the experiences from the social interaction of people and objects offer a reference to the sensory experiences.            
            As an example, the second portion of the October 13, 2011 blog post is a description of the process of myself opening an easy-open lid style can. The still photos along with the written descriptions are content of my research materials.  The written description pertains to the social interaction between person and object. Besides the physical interaction with my hands, I include a description within my writing about the interaction of the senses with the activity.
            I include written documentation of the social and sensory interaction present in each video clip in my collection archive. Archiving the preliminary research and methods of the activities, before capturing the social interactions by means of video, conveys that my research is not dominated by a visual method. Even though visual images play an important role in sensory ethnography, using a variety of mediums for practical and permanent documentation, such as writing, audio recording, all implies research and experience of the ethnographic process.[1]
            Since I am considering the video clips as the “object” of my collection, archiving my documented sensory ethnography methods establishes a foundation for the formation of the collection. I perceive that the archive of the collection will have a future role in a restaging of a segment of the collection by either an exhibit at a public institution or via an internet presentation.

[1] Sarah Pink, Doing Sensory Ethnography (London: Sage Publications Inc, 2009), 99 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Intro to Next Blog Posts

             The next three blog posts will introduce the content that formed my collections with the intersection of methods that were employed. I have divided these methods into three posts to indicate how the use of ‘fieldwork’ and sensory ethnography entails the capturing of the senses used in the social interaction between a person and an object, the archiving of the knowledge gained, and presenting these experiences in a collection form.
            These posts are samples writings from a current essay that I am working on pertaining to the use of interdisciplinary methods within my art practice.