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Rubbish, noise, experimentations: new afterlives of field recordings
Heikki Wilenius (University of Helsinki)
Jonathan Larcher (Université Paris Nanterre)
Ernst Karel (Harvard University)
Friday 24 July, 14:00-16:00 (UTC+1)

Short abstract:

This lab proposes to work on and think about new afterlives for anthropologists' sound recordings. By focussing on the figural excesses, technological deficiencies, or analytical uselessness of these objects, the lab participants collaboratively envision and bring about novel purposes for them.

Long abstract:

For decades, anthropologists have approached film, video and sound recordings as raw data subordinated to a research strategy. Once the film, the book or the research is finished, these materials are usually conceived as archives (Lajoux 1976) or, more seldom, as materials to be reinvested through the practice of feedback and "dialogic editing" (Feld 1987) with our interlocutors. These practices tend to treat recordings as disposable matter, which, once used, ends up discarded or even never used, because of various reasons - e.g. technical mistakes during recording, analogue deterioration or digital glitches, or not fulfilling the promise of being interesting or useful.

In an approach that is sensitive to the media-technical material conditions of our recordings, this lab proposes to listen to and tinker with field recordings, paying particular attention to the kind of "figural excess" (Pinney 2005) contained in fieldwork recordings. The lab explores the idea of how seizing field recordings as autonomous material objects, which have an independent existence besides their status as a "research commodity" (Birtwistle 2010), might open up their interpretation.

Participants are invited to upload snippets of audiovisual or aural material, which can be raw, work in progress or already completed. The lab will take place virtually on the conference platform, where these materials (raw recording or an edited/processed work) will be listened to or watched collectively, and discussed afterwards. Participants who wish to present something at the lab are requested to contact the convenors in advance.