P03
Relational resolutions: The role of digital images in ethnographic fieldwork

Convenors:
Julie Botticello (Royal Museums Greenwich)
Tom Fisher (Nottingham Trent University)
Discussant:
Sophie Woodward
Location:
Claus Moser
Start time:
30 May, 2014 at 14:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This panel seeks to explore digital imaging methods as immediate and dialogical processes in data generation in a fieldwork context, and how digital image-making technologies impact on photographic theory in anthropology.

Long abstract:

Photography has long been used in anthropology as a form of supplementary documentation, an object to enhance other data as a tool for reconnection to pasts or recovery of lost processes and practices. The focal point here, however, is not on the photograph as object or tool, but on the processes involved in generating images in contemporary fieldwork contexts. The anthropological tenet of participation and observation can often be at odds with photographic methods, as cameras and recording equipment create detachment and distance between the observer and those observed. In the digital realm, however, the immediacy of image creation can supersede and transform these barriers, bridging the subject : object dichotomy. We wish to explore how digital photography can transcend infrastructural difficulties to become methods of involvement, aides to dialogue, and vehicles for deepening participation at the point of image creation. Contributions for this panel may include: • How do photographs and films enable a closer engagement with participants and their methods, particularly when attempting to grasp complex sequences of events? • How does the creation of digital images build bridges for, rather than construct barriers to, mutual engagement, through the creation of immediate, visible and discussable data? • How is informant's perception of the research/er transformed through the latter's own acts of technological virtuosity, evidenced through the images made with the camera? The aim is to show that the generation of digital images can create new forms of mutual engagement in ethnographic contexts.