Accepted paper:

Making Commissioned Home Movies in a "Gypsy Hood"


Jonathan Larcher (New Europe College at Bucharest)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this contribution is to give an account of the contrast between the visuality and lived experiences involved in the making of commissioned home movies and the historicity of such images, pointing to a common field of research between visual ethnography and amateur film history

Paper long abstract:

This paper is based on a visual ethnographic research carried out among a "Gypsy Hood" (țigănie) in Romania. From 2007 to 2011, at the request of my contacts, I recorded and edited more than thirty "commissioned home movies" (AASMAN, 1995) - for weddings, baptisms, funerals - typically for a monetary compensation. This interaction with my clients and musicians took the form of an "education of attention" (GIBSON, 1979). Firstly, my presentation focuses on my personal experiences with shooting and production processes, describing in particular how the use of my camera was intricately linked to a network of social practices, power and contractual relationships, an ecology of images and vernacular filmic practices (such as the musical clips of "manele" or the telenovelas), and the gender dimensions of image-based media. This paper draws also on a second research topic. Through the constant copying and burning of flimsy DVDs, the "filtering" of the digital media through my contacts' diverse computer hardware and software profiles, or my attempts to salvage and digitize their VHS tapes, I experienced "the sense of time and temporality inscribed in the materiality of media technologies" (FICKERS, VAN DEN OEVER, 2014). Here plays out the tension between the significance of these commissioned home movies in contributing to the atmosphere of the celebrations, contrasting with the rapid obsolescence and disappearance of the technological applications that allowed them to exist, and the resulting progressive erasure of the resulting images.

panel P074
Negotiating imaginaries: explorations of vernacular audiovisual production