Thursday, 30 April 2015

visual project

Welcome to the Soil Dreams. What does happen if you take topsoil off and leave the land for 7 years? Take a tour and see, how land dreams.
This visual project studies how an unfinished plan to turn an arable land into a golf club changed the landscape. We propose to look at how soil erosion manifests the intersections between global tourist industry, financial flows and developers’ dreams. 
The tour repeats the golf game pattern, we follow from one hole to another. The order of holes and short two-line technical descriptions are taken from an original presentation of the golf club in the web.

The first and main impression from the place is that it is silent, abandoned and empty. But the soil left uncovered does not stay unchanged. Hopes of people and dreams of soil create a special atmosphere, which is nothing about emptiness and void framed by the absence of capital and interest of investors. 


Monday, 30 March 2015

Hurrah, we have a format. we are making a web-site. firstly, we will be able to integrate various media and make direct links to the original site of the project. secondly, we are going to explore the structure of a web-site as a space for neoliberal dreaming. And thirdly, we will be able to collaborate and work on site distantly.
So the main story is the golf game and movement from one link to another. we will be supplying each link with a small story about the changes that project brought to the life of local community. and at the same time collecting paradoxes that show how what can be seen as void is not a void at all.
The other important thing about the web-site is the possibility to update it and add content in the future. A film or a photo-essay won't have such capacities.
Every week-end I find something new about the golf-club. Today, for example, I heard about the plans to let the land to a catholic church with plans to establish a new catholic monastery in the village. Sounds phantasmagoric, and totally unpredictable to me. Seems like emptiness leads to unlimited creativity in claims making. 

Monday, 23 March 2015

work progress

we have written a story. this will be a story of soil. we still struggle with a choice of the final format - film or photo essay. the choice very much depends on technical support and time constraints. although film seems to me more concise, it is also has a certain problem - it is much more difficult to include various sorts of materials we have collected due both technical, and copyright issues. Film looks to me now as more autonomous project in which the author has to do more and create content. the more usual genre of essay seems to be more hybrid, open to incorporation of various things, including multimedia through references. this is because the reader seems to be a more active and unrestricted actor, in comparison to viewer of the film. the latter, especially if accompanied by other viewers (like during our screenings at class) is disciplined to watch the film from the beginning to end. but the reader can just scan through photos, or read some bits, choose to follow references or not. if i could i would have made this projects in a form of a video game :) so that the viewer would have been obliged to make decisions on what thread of the story she wanted to follow.
maybe we can think about the technical possibilities of this. but I doubt we can do it in such a short time. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

some photos from the field

photographer Svetlana Poleschuk

Multiple temporalities of film production

Work in progress
The project will be a result of patchwork. This will be a film, with a soundtrack that hides strong wind blows, with the insertions from an interview that we recorded in English about the history of the place. As simple as possible. And even this now seems to me a complicated task of cutting.
This will also be an attempt to turn my inability to fix the camera to the tripod into an artful gesture J
Now I see that to make a comfortable for the audience shooting and keep it on the level of observational cinema is actually a very difficult technical task for the cameraman.
But at the same time my poor skills help to decide what to include into 6-8 minute film from more than an hour of footage. We have something about 10 minutes altogether of a good material. And there are only 5 and a half minutes of interview.
But after I was comforted with this shortage, a new challenge came.

It turned out that this is actually a lot! It seems to me that at the time of cutting the timeline of the footage is multiplying. It is as if you are finding yourself suddenly in a different time scale. It is certainly a different temporality. On every minute of the final film you spend hours of your time. Finally, 7 minute film will be a condensed version of the time that equates to several days spent on its production. Interesting, that with ethnography it is the same. You spend a year in the field, to remember several hours of really important action, and then you spend years to write about these hours. You jump between these various temporalities.

Monday, 2 March 2015

this weekend I investigated the situation around the golf-club project and found out that although it looks as if it is abandoned, it is not. The owners of the land had to sell it to another firm because of the credit which they could not pay back. But last week there was a meeting of the representatives of the project with the head of local administration. they showed a new version of the project. There are plans that by 2020 there will be a golf resort in the area.
So we witness how neoliberal projects are being frozen, but not abandoned. Dreams stay, and even develop, as the investors provide a new architectural project of the club. And simultaneously, these dreams prevent the re-cultivation of the territory and actually contribute to conservation. The building of the TS (kolkhoz) situated on the lands sold for the golf project stay there with all the furniture and infrastructures untouched. The territory is closed and nobody still anything from the place. it can be seen as a historical artefact of the gone era, and neoliberal dreaming is contributing to this preservation. I plan to study this paradox by contrasting the images from the project portfolio and images of the real state of the lands.
but i do not want to create a binary opposition, instead to see how dreams and material object coevolve with each other. What is in the golf-projects images taken from "reality" and what role does this play there? And how do dreams shape the real things we witness?

Monday, 23 February 2015

The film Forest of Bliss to me looked very professional. I wonder how this effect is created. Is it just a result of a multiplicity of various perspectives, from which we see the scenes, as if there are many cameras working in the field? Or is it because there are no interactions between the cameraman and the subjects? Or is it because aesthetics seem to be more prominent than other topics, such as a narrative about particular event or a ritual?

Does this effect or image of visual professionalism changes in time? For example, various digital special effects are now almost inevitable part of professional films produced by the industry. Does it mean that in some time ethnographic films will need to use same effects or animation to look updated and professional themselves?

Even ethnographers are doing their film for the audience, and this means that if audience is changing, getting accustomed to particular visual standards, than ethnographic films have to absorb these standards. For example, many contemporary ethnographic films use short cuts, with fast changing images, so to look familiar to the audience trained to watch advertising clips and action films.
The debate around the Forest of Bliss seems to be preoccupied with the autonomy of anthropology from the surrounding environments, including film industry. Such autonomy seems to me impossible, and that is why I am not worried about the penetration of new visual technics.  I am worried about the demand for professionalization that such absence of autonomy creates. We cannot pretend that our amateurish film-making is enough for the purposes of the anthropological discipline. We have to develop professionally looking films, otherwise nobody will watch them. Does that mean that we have to work in collaboration with professional film makers? How can we integrate such collaborations with our fieldworks and difficult ethical problems connected with them?