Generational Filming. Video Diary as Experimental and Participatory Research
The subject matter of this research is the method with which I have approached my video archives. I have developed it together with Lea Kantonen, and it is a method of filming, watching and commenting that we have named Generational Filming. We watch and comment our home videos with people from different age groups, different specialists, and other viewers with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. These discussions are filmed, and then added to the next edition as a new generation of the video to be shown to other audiences. Viewers help us conceptualise both the interpretations and the theorisation of our footage. We have arranged more than fifty screenings in order to analyse the data in a collaborative way.
Generational Filming takes reflexivity to exhaustion or to a kind of saturation point. The chain of watching and commenting changes the meaning of the first shot, of the first generation of the chain. The focus of watching gradually changes from the viewed to the viewer. While listening to the interpretations made by previous viewers the subsequent viewers start to make comparisons between different cultural positions, and self-reflexivity begins to govern the experience of watching. My study concentrates on epistemological issues connected to the documentary approach. My research interest could be distilled into the following questions: What happens when an event is recorded (on film, video, etc.) and the recording is subsequently viewed? What are the truths, meanings and interpretations that emerge in the process of filming, editing, viewing and discussing a video diary? How does the spectator’s experience of watching change when watching filmed comments of that which has just been shown?
In every chapter I concentrate on a special phase of the Generational Filming process: the birth of the idea, filming, performing for camera, arranging and indexing the material, editing, screening, commenting, and making new versions of the case study. My research consists of eight case studies. I borrow the term case study from sociology as it corresponds well to the manner in which I have both delimited and approached the areas of study. These eight case studies present an overall view of Generational Filming. With the term case study I refer both to the video and to the writings on it, which have been assembled as chapters in this book. The videos and texts are also case studies in themselves. In five case studies the first generation of video is a home video clip filmed in our home. One case study is based on a filmed song sang by Seto songmothers. One is a dialogical art project made together with a third artist about her summer identity. The eight case study is a museum project with Mexican indigenous people, Wixaritari, in which the method is used for planning a community museum.
I recount the results of each case study and attempt to understand the significance of the method and its position in different academic and artistic discussions. I have categorised these discussions under four headings: Generational Filming in the tradition of moving images, Generational Filming as ethnography, Generational Filming as socially engaged art, and Generational Filming as artistic research.
Doctoral thesis in fine arts includes three exhibitions made with Lea Kantonen: Favourite Place (2004) in the project space of the Museum of Photography Helsinki, Most Important in Life (2005) in Helsinki City Art Museum Meilahti, and Ripples at Home (2011) at Helsinki Kunsthalle. My part in these exhibitions has mostly consisted of the video documentation. In this book I write only about the works presented in the Ripples at Home exhibition.
Laatukuvia ja kirjallisia kokeiluja / Genre pictures and experiments in writing
GENRE PICTURES AND EXPERIMENTS IN WRITING is a doctoral thesis in article form of the interaction between image, word and sound. It consists of five essays, which have been published or otherwise made accessible to the public in various forums for artistic research, plus a total of seven videoworks. The last of these videos is a wordless epilogue. The thesis also includes an introduction in the form of a letter.