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Visualizing Theory Selected Essays From V.A.R

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schema:description "The Memory of the Senses: Historical Perception, Commensal Exchange, and Modernity / C. Nadia Seremetakis. Paranoiac Space / Victor Burgin. One-Legged Gender / Marilyn Strathern. The Hand / Ludmilla Jordanova. Films of Memory / David MacDougall. Manufacturing Vision / David Tomas. Post-Bourgeois Tatto: Reflections on Skin Writing in Late Capitalist Societies / Marc Blanchard. Family Matters: Postfeminist Constructions of a Contested Site / Elizabeth G. Traube. Remembering the Revolution, Forgetting the Revolution, Forgetting the Empire: Notes after the French Bicentennial / Peter Redfield. Simulations of Postmodernity: Images of Technology in African Tourist and Popular Art / Bennetta Jules-Rosette. The Photograph as a Intersection of Gazes: The Example of National Geographic / Catherine Lutz and Jane Collins. BBC Domesday: The Social Construction of Britain on Videodisc / Alan Macfarlane. Future Travel / Christopher Pinney -- 4. Visualizing Theory: "In Dialogue.""@en ;
schema:description "Speaking Nearby / Nancy N. Chen and Trinh T. Minh-ha. Visualizing Theory / Homi Bhabha and Victor Burin."@en ;
schema:description "1. The Ethnographic and the Ipsographic. The Camera People / Eliot Weinberger. Whose Story Is It? / David MacDougall. The Modernist Sensibility in Recent Ethnographic Writing and the Cinematic Metaphor of Montage / George E. Marcus. Trobrianders on Camera and Off / Annette B. Weiner. The Ethnographer's Tale / Bill Nichols. Artuad, Rouch, and the Cinema of Cruelty / Paul Stoller. Cannibal Tours / Dean MacCannell. Trinh T. Minh-ha Observed: Anthropology and Others / Henrietta L. Moore. Marketing Alterity / Rachel Moore -- 2. Surrealism, Vision, and Cultural Criticism. Between the Street and the Salon: The Dilemma of Surrealist Politics in the 1930s / Susan Rubin Suleiman. Exquisite Corpses / Hal Foster. The Disenchantment of the Eye: Surrealism and the Crisis of Ocularcentrism / Martin Jay -- 3. Modernity's Mediations: The Scopic and the Haptic. Physiognomic Aspects of Visual Worlds / Michael Taussig."@en ;
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Content-negotiable representations


By Scott MacDonald

Not all young filmmakers are young filmmakers. Lucien Castaing-Taylor completed Sweetgrass (2009), the film he made with Ilisa Barbash, after a considerable career as an anthropology student (he studied with Timothy Asch at USC, got his Ph.D. at Berkeley); editor (he was founding editor of Visual Anthropological Review and had edited Visualizing Theory: Selected Essays from V.A.R. 1990-1994 and Transcultural Cinema, a collection of essays by David McDougall); author (he and Barbash had collaborated on Cross Cultural Filmmaking: A Handbook for Making Documentary and Ethnographic Films and Videos for University of California Press); and teacher, first at Berkeley, then at the University of Colorado, and beginning in 2003, at Harvard where he founded the Sensory Ethnography Lab. He had also done some work in film. He and Barbash collaborated on Made in USA (1990), on American sweatshops, and In and Out of Africa (1992), on the transcultural trade in “indigenous” African art; and Castaing-Taylor worked as consultant and cinematographer on Isaac Julien’s Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (1996).

Nothing in this estimable career, however, could have predicted Sweetgrass and/or the set of audio-visual installation works—Bedding Down, Breakfast, Coom Biddy, Daybreak on the Bedground, Hell Roaring Creek, The High Trail, Into-the-Jug (geworfen), and Turned at the Pass—that Castaing-Taylor completed during 2010-12 (these can also be experienced as theatrical works). They are beautifully filmed depictions of sheepherding in the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains of Montana, focusing particularly on the century-old practice of herding sheep into the mountains for summer pasture. This practice was in its final years when Castaing-Taylor was lugging his heavy video camera into the mountains to record the sounds and images of the imbricated lives of the sheep and the cowboys, or what Castaing-Taylor calls “sheeple” (these sheep wouldn’t be what they are without humans breeding them, and humans wouldn’t be what we are had no one bred sheep). This body of work is a major contribution not only to ethnographic documentary, but to the modern tradition of cinematically representing American place that has been developed by independent filmmakers like Larry Gottheim, Peter Hutton, James Benning, and Sharon Lockhart.

Castaing-Taylor’s work in establishing and developing the Sensory Ethnography Lab has also been important; his charisma—a product of his personal passion for filmmaking, his broad knowledge, his integrity—has been an inspiration for younger filmmakers like Véréna Paravel, J. P. Sniadecki (Paravel and Sniadecki collaborated on Foreign Parts [2010]), and Stephanie Spray. In his role as director of the SEL, Castaing-Taylor continues to function as creative producer and as collaborator: as this is written, he and Paravel are editing Leviathan, their film about commercial fishing in the North Atlantic.

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