W086
Transcultural montage: the uses of filmic montage in conveying diversity and mutuality

Convenors:
Rane Willerslev (Ethnographic Collections, Moesgaard Museum)
Christian Suhr (Aarhus University)
Discussant:
Peter Crawford
Format:
Workshops
Location:
DID
Start time:
27 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:
4

Short abstract:

In an attempt to go beyond conventional forms of realism in ethnographic filmmaking this workshop invites people to reconsider the possibilities and limitations of using montage and other forms of filmic manipulation to communicate experiences of diversity and mutuality on film.

Long abstract:

In ethnographic films montage has traditionally been conceived as something best to be avoided or minimized in order to bring forth the most accurate depictions of sociocultural reality (Vaughan 1992). Thus, the long uninterrupted shot, which preserves natural duration and reproduces space somewhat similar to ordinary perceptual experience, has become the hallmark of ethnographic films (Taylor 1996). Contrary to anthropological writings, which often work by illuminating cultural difference, the uninterrupted shots of ethnographic films have been valued for their potential to transcend cultural boundaries by underscoring the commonalities of being human (MacDougall 1999). Nevertheless, reception studies have found that the extent to which viewers perceive such transcultural properties in images significantly relies on the context in which the images appear (Martinez 2004). Thus, the particular juxtaposition of shots in a film may guide or misguide viewers to pay attention to cultural differences or to transcultural commonalities of being human. If it is accepted that montage is an unavoidable part of any cinematic representation a world of possibilities opens up. Thus, montage may be used to construct new visions, impossible to obtain from the subjective viewpoint of our bodies (Vertov 1984). Montage may be used to depict the multispatial and simultaneous character of global cultural processes (Kiener 2006, Marcus 1994). Finally, montage may be used as a powerful means of deconstruction (Minh-ha 1982). It appears that montage is a pertinent issue to explore. In this workshop we invite people to reconsider the possibilities and limitations of using montage and other forms of filmic manipulation (framing, grading, soundediting etc.) to communicate experiences of diversity and mutuality on film.