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1 More Than Just a Picture : Creating and using visuals in social science research Jennifer Cool M.A. Visual Anthropology, 1993 Ph.D. Candidate,

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Presentation on theme: "1 More Than Just a Picture : Creating and using visuals in social science research Jennifer Cool M.A. Visual Anthropology, 1993 Ph.D. Candidate,"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 More Than Just a Picture : Creating and using visuals in social science research Jennifer Cool M.A. Visual Anthropology, 1993 Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology University of Southern California

2 2 Talk Outline o Workshop Purpose o Definitions o Representation Across Media o Rhetoric o Filmmaking o Informatics o Documentary / Visual Anthropology o Putting it all into practice: Home Economics o Practicum in documentary video

3 3 Workshop Purpose o The proliferation of digital technologies has increased the ease with which graduate students use self-made still, moving, and interactive images to support their research. o Despite this trend, images are often added to dissertations, presentations, and publications as an afterthought. o This workshop will encourage us to think critically and creatively when we use visual images moving, still, and interactive in our research by exploring the use of photography, film, and interactive media.

4 4 InformationHypermedia –Stable, established –Mature –Relatively centralized –Formal –One-to-many –Top-down publication –Unified layers (bits linked to atoms) –Writing presented per publication –Largely mono-media (text) with separate repositories for different media/genres (pictures, artifacts) –Unstable, emerging –Immature –Relatively decentralized –Informal –Many-to-many –Distributed publication –Discrete layers –Write once publish anywhere –Highly multimedia & intermedia (text, image, audio, video, multiple document formats; multilingual, modular) Digital technology

5 5 By Visuals I Mean o Photographs, film/video (sound and image), any recording made with a camera as data to be studied o Research media o using (audio)visuals to record data o Still images, films, videos, PowerPoint presentations, any visual media made to convey or illustrate the insights and analyses of academic research. o Rhetorical media o using (audio)visuals to make argument

6 6 Research & Rhetorical Media o Can the boundaries be traversed? o Absolutely. Two modes are mutually informative. o But important to consider each mode separately. o Research media fall under methods o Generally, these are techniques, forms, and norms of data capture established within disciplines and sub-fields. o Rhetorical media fall under___?

7 7 Basic Premise of this Talk o No image is understood outside a discourse. o Discourse/Context may mask itself (art) o Discourse/Context may be explicit (newspaper) o The question is, how to craft your images so they are consistent with the discourse in which you operate?

8 8 Representation Across Media o As scholars, you already have mastery in certain forms of communication, in particular, reading and writing texts. o Whatever the medium, thoughtful acts of representation begin with these basic questions: o What do I want to say? o Who is my audience? o What is the best way to say it?

9 9 What do I want to say? (Content) o Whats my main message, or thesis? o Whats my goal or purpose in making these photographs; this video, slideshow, webpage, or other media presentation? o Whats my investment in the subject? o With what authority do I speak?

10 10 Who is my audience? o What knowledge can I assume of my audience? o What ideas/information need to be presented explicitly? o What issues or objections might they have to my argument? o What are their values, goals, and interests? o How do might these relate to my message?

11 11 Whats the best way to say it? (Form) o Choose medium, genre, format: o Oral: lecture, discussion, informal speech o Written: essay, book, , letter o Pictoral: photos, illustrations, diagrams, graphs o Mixed & multimedia: PowerPoint presentation, film, video, website, other new media o Match tone & formality to audience & content.

12 12 My Frameworks o Rhetoric o Filmmaking o Informatics o Documentary / Visual Anthropology

13 13 Drawn from my experienceexperience Visual anthropology o M.A. Visual Anthropology, USC, 1993 o Home Economics: a documentary of suburbia, M.A. Film o The Experts of Everyday Life: "The Experts of Everyday Life: Cultural Reproduction and Cultural Critique in Antelope Valley," M.A. ThesisThe Experts of Everyday Life: Cultural Reproduction and Cultural Critique in Antelope Valley Film, documentary multimedia, Internet and web production: o Synapse Columbus project & Computer Curriculum Corp. o Cyborganic, Netscape, Disney/ABC Cable Networks Teaching film production, written, oral, and graphic communication: o Assistant Lecturer, Freshman Writing, U.S.C. o Lecturer, Cinema Dept., San Francisco State o Lecturer, Information & Computer Science, U.C. Irvine


15 15 Rhetoric Representation is a rhetorical act

16 16 Rhetorical in a classical sense

17 17

18 18 Rhetorical in a modernist sense o Its never just a pipe. o The images you make are not prima facie evidence. Even the most straight forward illustration involves interpretation and construction. Although we often hear that data speak for themselves, their voices can be soft and sly. Frederick Mosteller, Stephen E. Fienberg, and Robert E.K. Rourke, Beginning Statistics with Data Analysis, 1983, p. 234.

19 19 Rhetorical in a postmodernist sense Viewers make meaning o Reception, cultural construction The treason of images o A picture may be worth ten thousand words, but… o You, the producer, dont get to choose any of those words o They may not even be in your language Power/Knowledge o All acts of representation are partial, situated, interested, and occasioned o Creating, using, and reading visuals in social science requires attention to these contexts

20 20 Filmmaking Two parables, an aphorism, and three aspects

21 21 Kuleshov Effect

22 22 Cocktail Party Effect o The ability in perception to select one desired sound from a background of ambient noise. E.g., at a party, where many voices speak simultaneously, we can 'focus' our ears on one conversation and filter out voices and sounds which are equally strong. o A microphone cannot filter noise from signal thus and, placed at the party, records a babble of sounds. o Perception is interpretation.

23 23 Youve got to have a reason o Apply Dmytryks aphorism to every : o Cut o Frame o Shot o Choice of media (film stock, video, etc.) o Contrast with: o Laying down music and cutting to the beat. o Deciding you must cut to a new image every x seconds o Shooting footage without a clear purpose, shooting everything in master shots, just getting coverage. Rule 1: Never make a cut without a positive reason. Edward Dmytryk, On Film Editing

24 24 Intersecting Aspects o Technical o Subject is in frame, in focus, and well illuminated o Camera, sound, and editing as crafts that support narrative and aesthetic aspects. o Narrative o Film time is not clock time. It is story time, time is condensed, expanded, elided. o Narrative time is configured. Time governed by plot. o Plot: drawing a sense of whole out of a chronology o Characters: agents who both act and suffer o Classic Three act structure: beginning, middle, and end o Aesthetic o Technical craftsmanship does not detract from message. o Form and content work together o Be especially aware and reflexive of the aesthetic to which you appeal.

25 25 Informatics Tufte: Scientific principles of Information design

26 26 Edward Tufte o Professor emeritus of statistics, graphic design, and political economy at Yale University o Expert in informational design & graphics

27 27 Information Graphics Greatest Hits

28 28 Tufte: clear and precise seeing, thinking, saying if displays of data are to be truthful and revealing, then the logic of the display design must reflect the logic of analysis. Visual representations of evidence should be governed by principles of reasoning about quantitative evidence. For information displays, design reasoning must correspond to scientific reasoning. Clear and precise seeing becomes as one with clear and precise thinking. Edward Tufte, Visual Explanations, 1997, p. 53.

29 29 Tufte: Scientific Principles Displays should be documentary, comparative, causal and explanatory, quantified, multivariate, exploratory. o Document sources and characteristics of the data. o Insistently enforce appropriate comparisons. o Demonstrate mechanisms of cause and effect. o Express those mechanisms quantitatively. o Recognize the inherently multivariate nature of analytic problems. o Inspect and evaluate alternative explanations.

30 30 Documentary & Visual Anthropology The documentary tradition Ethnographic film Image ethics and epistemologies

31 31 The documentary tradition o Some of the first films were ethnographic (1890s-1930s) o City symphony films (early 20th century) o Portable Sync Sound 16mm (1960s), technology gets smaller, more automatic o Cinéma verité, direct cinema

32 32 Ethnographic film o Positivism & scientific films o Observational cinema o Anthropologys Crisis of Representation o Reflexivity, beyond observational cinema o Ethics o Rights of the subject o Questions of audience, royalties, etc. o Politics and epistemologies of representation o The New Ethnography and New Wave in Ethnographic film.

33 33 New Ethnography o Dialogism, dialogic relationship between ethnographer and informant(s) o Ethnographies of the particular (present ethnographer and subjects as specific individuals in specific social contexts o Reflexivity o Subjects speak for themselves o Conscious focus on narrative structure (e.g. Geertzs fictions, anthropological representations are made not found)

34 34 Putting it all into practice Home Economics

35 35 Home Economics as response to Crisis of Representation o Choice of subject o the domestic and everyday, rather than the exotic other. o Subjects addressed, not described o No voiceover narration, no explanatory titles o Filmmakers questions included o Real time takes, no cut away shots in interviews, whole replies included, not sound bites o Authorship acknowledged o Reflexivity (inclusion of filmmaker in the frame) o Slow down I want to get the billboards o Clear narrative arc (constructed nature of representation) o Montage (portraits and landscapes)

36 36 Home Economics Picture/Camera o Filmmaker in the frame, but off to the side, not at the center o Framing of whole bodies in the environment o Set camera up, off to the side, so anthropologist and informant can talk face to face. o Keep the equipment in the background o Create casual atmosphere, kitchen conversations o Juxtaposition of interview (portraits) and montage of the build environment (landscapes) o Hand-held shots of home interiors, emphasize domestic, everyday life.

37 37 Home Economics Sound o Inclusion of long takes presents subjects as expert witnesses o Music played in model home sequences is the actual music played in the models. o Hard cuts on audio in these shots. o Music played in scene of low-income housing was actual sound from the footage. o Hard cuts on audio in these shots.

38 38 Home Economics ethics & politics of representation o Key informants saw final cut of film before they were asked to sign release forms o Goes against what they teach at the Cinema School. Its risky and can backfire, but also builds trust. o Permission to film models and construction site came from the housing developer o Workers not asked to sign a release o Guerrilla filmmaking o Billboards shot without permissions o Low income housing in long shot, reflects social distance between filmmaker and these subjects

39 39 Home Economics as a work in the Anthropological Tradition o Examines the ideals and norms of homeownership o Explores specific cultural meanings of home o What the native thinks hes up to (Geertz) o Seeks to show the logic and validity of a particular way of life

40 40 Home Economics as Cultural Critique o Homeownership in contemporary American society is often achieved at the expense of the very values a home is said to represent. o Informants as expert witnesses who testimony show both the values and meanings of homeownership and the ways those values are undermined by commuting, work, and other structural forces of the society.

41 41 Home Economics Aschs Ethics of Ethnographic Filmmaking Applied (in some way) Know your subjects Reflexivity (backgrounded) Shoot whole events Support film with documentation Seek feedback from subjects Seek feedback from sample audiences Distribute film properly Publish guide/monograph to distribute with film Not Applied Reflexivity (foregrounded) Make an uncut version for scholarly research Make royalty agreement with people filmed Shoot whole events (focus was on discourse, not events) On-going commitment to indigenous population

42 42 practicum Documentary Motion Pictures

43 43 Pre-production o Crew or one-man band? o Practice. Video tape is cheap. o Choose a cinematic subject o Audience, genre, format, medium o The more you know about the final destination, the better you can shoot for it. o Camera (and other equipment) size and footprint in relation to filmed event and logistics in the field, or on location.

44 44 Shooting o Focus, exposure, and composition o These all need to be intuitive o Auto-focus: set and hold o Play with focus, exposure, composition. o Fold out LCD screens are great for composition, but no use for exposure or focus. o Frame your subject tightly enough so its clear where the viewer should look. Crop out moise. o Use a tripod whenever possible o Camera movement can be hard to intercut. o Other benefits? (Face to face communication) o If shooting handheld, bone-to-bone contact or shoulder brace? o Good sound (professional mic) o Always shoot for real.

45 45 Shooting o Let takes run long, heads and tails o Log and label all footage on the spot o Let moving objects exit frame before you cut o Practice as though tape were cheap, shoot as if it were very expensive. o Hang around and shoot a lot of film. o Invisibility via ubiquitous presence (of camera) o Dont try to sneak shots! o Do put tape over red camera rolling lights

46 46 Editing o Creating film time and space o What one thing are you trying to say? o Images denser and more concrete than text. o Story and character o Build your story in sound and image (rather than voiceover and inter-titles). o The clearer your aims in shooting, the easier this is to do in the editing room.

47 47 Examples for Discussion

48 48 Miles Coolidge Safetyville America by Numbers Garage Photos Associate Professor, Studio Art, U.C. Irvine

49 49 Michael Wesch o YouTube video by Anthropology Professor o mP4nk0EOE mP4nk0EOE o Wired Rave Award o /multimedia/2007/04/ss_raves?slide= 18&slideView=7 /multimedia/2007/04/ss_raves?slide= 18&slideView=7 o Entirely word-driven o Cut to music

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