Kyra Sacks, Mattijs Van de Port, Damianos Zisimou

Still from clip by Damianos Zisimou

For this project two key words stand out. ENCOUNTER and UNDERSTANDING. Ethnography has greatly invested in the idea of the encounter. ‘Intersubjectivity’ has become the key to the study of cultural difference. Anthropologists no longer speak about The Other, let alone claim to have the methods to define The Other in his or her cultural specificity, genetic make-up, etc… What we can know, and study, is what occurs between ourselves and the other: intersubjectivity. However much we support this starting point for inquiry, we really feel that making the encounter central to anthropology requires a much more rigid analysis as to what goes on in an encounter. How much of the ‘understanding’ that encounters produce is fantasy, imagination, projection?

So what we will do is an ANATOMY OF AN ENCOUNTER.

The first step is to dissect a previous filmed encounter. We will select a fragment from our video archive, and question and re-question it, to undermine the taken for granted confidence that gave us the idea that we understood what was being said. We will thus get a better idea as to the complexity of (intercultural) encounters, and what we can can claim for them in terms of knowledge production. This dissecting is done

At the level of language
At the level of interpretation
At the level of emotion
At the level of you
At the level of him/her
At the level of facial expressions
At the level of the experiential histories we carry with us
At the level of the experiential histories they carry with them
At the level of place, and how it speaks to this event
At the level of time, and how it speaks tot his event
At the level of how you were dressed, and they were dressed
At the level of your current mood
At the level of your mood at the time of the recording
Or what you recall of it
At all possible levels that you can imagine.

The second step is to find an audio-visual form to recount the encounter on the basis of what we’ve found. We think of it as a tryptich of 3 experimental videos. What we think is interesting is that this video work reintroduces a new encounter, i.e. the encounter with the viewer, and it might well be that all the complexity of encounters repeats itself in that instance.

The end result of our project will be part of the output of the team and will be showcased and reflected upon in an online publication.

Currently (I’m writing 11/12/2020) we have had several meetings. We have selected our clips and have send each other the audio of those clips (not the images). On the basis of the audio, we have send each other notes as to how we imagined this encounter on the basis of sound. We have also send each other our recollections of that encounter — the ”beyond” of the clip. For our next meeting we will make short videoclips which will combine the voice recordings of each other comments on the audio-clip; video-stills of details from the clip, and written textual comments. We develop our ideas and strategies as we go. 

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