Paper short abstract:
Black Snow folds into itself three transitional quests: a retiring sculptor creating a final masterpiece; a deprived community showing its resilience; and a council-house kid/Deleuzian management professor coming to terms with his conflicted history in making a film about a long-forgotten disaster.
Paper long abstract:
Life is a series of non-events that may, in their ordinariness, be extraordinary. But events are more than what happens - they creep up on us and suddenly things change, irrevocably, like desert rain. History often records the drama of "event" but not the swirling before and after minutiae, the elusive ambiguities where life is lived. The past can haunt us and the future emerge from it in a gesture, a breath, a sound: a non-textual rhizome that Stewart senses and articulates rather than captures, an affect that Lingis emotes. These are ethnographers of intensity, of vulnerability, of time as lived and endured rather than measured; for whom text is a limited medium to engage with affect. Film, via Bergson and Deleuze, is a much better way of engaging with and evoking polysemous and polyvocal social experience. But the struggle to get it accepted as a research medium in its own right is in its early days in management studies, where realist ontologies and functionalist epistemologies remain dominant.
My "method" has developed from arts-based approaches rather than social science: films as critically affective performative texts interweave aesthetic, poetic, ethical and political moments. Ethnographic skills become a resource for blending and disappearing into the narratives of others - not for spurious objectivity, but to let theory and practice work together to engage their audience. In this film, archives, VAR and mine rescuers are "screened" to engage the audience corporeally in a shared evocation bridging both a past and a present.
Empirical art: Filmmaking for fieldwork in practice