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CAMERA AS CULTURAL CRITIQUE

- Juxtaposition, Intervention and Co-creation

  • International Conference, 25-27 May 2016
  • Aarhus University & Moesgaard Museum

In contemporary media culture, fragments of filmed history are constantly being reassembled into new films and videos to create new audio-visual constructions of historical memory. Building on traditions of found footage and compilation films, digital media has made this practice proliferate. As the status of the archive has been transformed from the closed institution to open access, so too have its aesthetics and politics. Archiveology is a critical method derived from Walter Benjamin’s cultural theory, which, I will argue, provides valuable tools for grasping the implications of the practice of re-mixing, recycling, and reconfiguring the image bank. At the same time, contemporary archival film prac-tices arguably make Benjamin’s legacy more legible.

In this conference we investigate the potential of visual media to convey and respond to existing as well as emerging social realities. We aim to contribute to an interdisciplinary field of research and practice that includes anthropology, philosophy and visual art. The visual media we wish to discuss range from photography and film to digital media, audio-visual installations and exhibitions.

Building on a tradition of critique in cultural anthropology, we pursue styles of knowing that reach beyond conventional text-based academic knowledge, using practice-led methods that develop their own forms of representation and criteria of validity and open new affinities to the world of art. We claim that concepts of critique are essential in this endeavour, providing the reflective grounding for our experiments and interventions in contexts and questions beyond their immediate sphere of impact and relevance.

Key elements 

We organize the workshop under three sub-headings that suggest key elements in these alternative styles of knowing: 

  • Juxtaposition
    What should we understand by cultural critique and what is the potential of visual media for critique? Can we go beyond juxtaposition and epistemological critique to create distance and untimeliness, while fostering (re)engagement and dialogue? How can techniques of recording, montage, feedback, exhibition, etc. create spaces for reflection and critical revaluation?
  • Intervention
    Every expression of art and every act of knowledge creation can be seen as a form of intervention in social reality. This opens questions regarding intentional authorship and perspective. Foregrounding the act of visual intervention as a privileged, multi-sensorial method of producing, grasping and articulating often non-verbal social relations and situations, we consider the ways in which such interventions may prompt transformative agency.
  •  Co-creation
    In spite of many programmatic statements and acknowledgements of debt to informants, collaborators, and participants, the creation of substantial frameworks and methods for co-creation is still an underdeveloped field within the social sciences. What does co-creation imply and how may we conceptualise the processual and dynamic practice of cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary co-creation?

Keynote speakers

  • Trinh T. Minh-ha
    Professor, University of California, Berkeley
  • Jennifer Deger
    Associate Professor, James Cook University
  • Catherine Russell
    Professor, Concordia University

All keynotes are free and open to all - Public keynote programme
Participation in the rest of the programme requires prior registration - Full conference programme