Locative Media Gallery
||Shoot me if you can||sunTracer||Tactical Sound Garden||The Walking Project|
|Guttersnipe: on the road
by Angela Piccini
Copyright © Angela Piccini
|Given the central role of camera-based technologies in archaeology and the generative tensions between the live archaeological ‘event’ and its various recorded artefacts (Pearson and Shanks, 2001; Phelan, 1993; Reason, 2003; Rye, 2000; 2003), I wished to attempt a different way of thinking about the relationships between record and event. Rather than seeking to reproduce a ‘commonsense’ use of camera-based technologies to contain and transmit ‘knowledge’, I wished to work with John Grierson’s famous description of documentary as the ‘creative treatment of actuality’ (1926) as a starting point. What might video and live spoken word as media specifically contribute to archaeological practice that is qualitatively different from a textual account of place? How is this practice performative of place? How might this practice organize space – screen space, stage space, suburban space, family space, depth and surface, now and then – and place – the specificity of locale, city, neighborhood, street, gutter, housing, pavement, roadway - as they intertwine variously?|
Copyright © Angela Piccini
|The video comprises
a largely unedited tracking shot (there is a fade in from black at the beginning
and fade to black at the end) along one unbroken stretch of gutter in Brislington,
Bristol. The camera focuses in on the 90° angle where the street meets
the kerb. I shot the screenwork in one take with a domestic miniDV video
recorder, lashed onto a pushchair. In performance I have not used the synchronous
recorded sound, but rather a soundtrack composed by Jem Noble, which layers
the original synchronous sound with multiple sound recordings of the script.
I then read the script in performance.
The screenwork was the initial artefact that I used to construct an archaeological narrative that sometimes references what I saw on the screen and sometimes becomes a departure point from which to discuss a broader archaeology.
This practice is in the spirit of Benjamin’s ‘philosophising “directly” out of the objects of cultural experience’ (Benjamin and Osborne 1994, xi; Benjamin, 1999).
The screenwork also
refers to the embodied practices that characterize archaeological endeavour:
surveying, planning and drawing, fieldwalking, electronic sub-surface
survey, excavation, photography, recording, looking (see also Holtorf,
2001; Wylie, 2002). Thus, a videoed gutter brought me to consider a briefing
paper from the Institute for Civil Engineers, which then allowed me to
make a connection between pediments and continuity and the notion of the
gutter as performative space with its kerbstone proscenium arch. The practice
of making the video together with my watching practice shaped an emergent
Benjamin, A and Osborne, P (eds) (1994) Walter Benjamin’s Philosophy, London: Routledge
Benjamin, W (1999) The Arcades Project, trans. Eiland, H and McLaughlin, K, Cambridge, MA: Belknap-Harvard University Press
Grierson, J (1926) Review: Moana New York Sun
Holtorf, C (2001) 'Fieldtrip theory: towards archaeological ways of seeing', in P. Rainbird and Y. Hamilakis (eds) Interrogating Pedagogies: Archaeology in Higher Education, pp. 81–87. British Archaeologial Reports, International Series 948. (Oxford: Archaeopress).
Pearson, M and Shanks, M (2001) Theatre/Archaeology, London: Routledge
Phelan, P (1993) Unmarked: the Politics of Performance, London: Routledge
Reason, M (2003) Archive or memory? The detritus of live performance 73 New Theatre Quarterly 82–89
Rye, C (2000) Living Cameras: A Study of Live Bodies and Mediatized Images in Multi-Media Performance and Installation Art Practice. Unpublished Ph.D. Edinburgh: Napier University.
Rye, C (2003) Incorporating practice: a multi-viewpoint approach to performance documentation 3(2) Journal of Media Practice 115–123
Wylie, J (2002)
An essay on ascending Glastonbury Tor 33 Geoforum 441–54
Piccini focuses on
archaeology as a contemporary attitude towards understanding place, material
and performativity. Her research explores the intersections among archaeology,
performance, screen practice and mixed-mode research in the contemporary
built environment. She currently holds a Research Councils UK Fellowship
in Performativity, Place, Space, and is researching the use of Semantic
Web in a locative media context.
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