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Accepted paper:

An Invitation to Feel Colour and Draw Sound: Proposing Cross-modal Representation as a Participatory Method in Multimodal Fieldwork


Harshadha Balasubramanian (UCL)

Paper short abstract:

This paper identifies a need to map the relationships between the modalities in multimodal ethnography, and it invites the audience to experiment with a participatory method for doing so.

Paper long abstract:

Multimodal ethnography is inevitably a site for entanglements, and hence tensions and negotiations, between various modalities (Leeuwin 2011; Pink 2008). Anthropological scholarship has responded by acknowledging the multisensory potential in all encounters (Howes 2019), integration of modalities- like video and text (MacDougall 2006), and media as materially and socially constituted (Banks and Ruby 2011). With increasing multimedia formats (Salter 2018) and possibly more complex entanglements, I argue that there is an imperative to study the relationship between these modalities: how they are entangled, where do they conflict or disentangle, and how and why participants negotiate this relationship. As I discovered while researching Audio Description (AD) for sight-impaired theatre-goers, another reason for mapping the process of entangling modalities is that the process may have immense social implications for those making and experiencing the media. Borrowing from AD practice, this paper invites the panel’s audience to represent one sensory modality in terms of another, such as colour as touch and sound as image, and explain their decisions. Beyond just revealing encounters and media to be multisensory, I propose a method which has previously helped me study how and why this potential for multisensorial and multimodal entangling may emerge in the first place.

panel P039
Languages of entanglement: mapping the ethnographic modes and media