purple square, return  dialectic_space:

you / me / we

Michael left a mason jar of water high on the window sill in the office he now shares with baby toys, diapers, and teething rings. The sun is silver and winter-bright, as it often is these days, and the rays cut through the glass and the liquid, casting erratic, watery shadows on the wall behind me. I turn and look, longer than I should. The longer I look, I think, the more likely it becomes that an important task will have to be done poorly. There is no time anymore, it seems. Still, I look, and I think that if I were a filmmaker, I would reach for a camera.

purple square, section 2
Bill Nichols (1994) in "The Ethnographer's Tale" conversed with an "ethnographic film tradition that has sought to represent others when, 'we' have been told, they could not represent themselves" (p. 80). Moreover, Nichols critiqued the ubiquity of imposed — consciously or not — narrative structure in ethnographic film, the kind of structure that relies on setting, exposition, conflict, and resolution (p. 67). And if there is no conflict? Or, conflict exists, but resolution is still an unrealized dream? The imposition of a narrative, in this case, creates knowledge that will not ring true for the Others objectified by the viewer's gaze. And where knowledge is created, power is exercised. By whom? For whom? Over whom?

Imposed narrative structures, thus, have the power to silence, and I tried to engage in the design of these videos with the power of narrative and silence in mind. My goal was not to tell the story of how some of our projects grew but to hear the stories as told by those who created them. I began with a question, "Will you tell me about your project?" and tried my best to listen openly. During the video editing process, I made a mantra of Nichols's (1994) call to question the Us/Them binary present in many ethnographic films (p. 63). As I conceptualized portions of the interviews I recorded, I tried to always be aware that my visual design choices were rhetorical; the decisions were mine, and the images were my interpretation — my representation — of someone else's story. The result is collaborative and not singly authored.

After the SVR course, I continued to study representation through qualitative research practices found in action research traditions. Specifically, I looked to feminist action research methodologies and found the same concern for knowledge creation and power. Patricia Maguire (2006) in "Uneven Ground: Feminisms and Action Research" raised questions about representation I had considered during the design of my hypertext project: "Feminism gives new meaning to questions at the heart of the politics of knowledge creation. Whose perspective? Whose voice? Whose knowledge?" (p. 64).

Since my project, however, I have learned more about the messiness of action research, and I have tried to engage feminist concerns about the impossibility of giving voice to anyone. I can no longer enter into an academic project without attempting to seriously consider the issues of representation, voice, and power. Is this growth? The resulting projects are and are likely to be a little disheveled, a little fragmented. It will not look like growth if linearity of argument is what we are looking for. After all, multivocality, listening to and working with multiple voices, is difficult to strongly assert. With many voices, the stories spiral and move through each other, and the representation of this research must do the same. We cannot, as Doreen Massey (2005) argued, equate space with the fixity of representation — the historical association of space with the characteristics of representation. Unmoving, secure, to be trusted in its experiential grounding (p. 20). Thus, this reflection attempts to unhinge the mystique of fixity that the digital time of archived webspaces — in their appearance as frozen — holds over (potential) users. As Web 2.0 and other webspaces become increasingly social and complex, it seems that the static presentation of ideas on simple archived pages, like this one, appear all the more fixed, unmoving. We should look at these spaces differently, I think, as if they are ongoing moments in an always unfolding/returning web of relations.

purple square, section 3
I can't teach you to be graphic designers, I say. This is a writing class, after all. But I can help you expand your conception of what it means to write a text, and I can help you think about composition rhetorically — where perhaps that composition will merge more traditional forms of writing with visual or digital composing.

The blank stares are unanimous, and the fear is real. But I don't know how to make a video, they say. But I can't write a webpage. Some students, however, do know how to do these things, and we will work together. Students will engage in collaborative projects that blend more familiar writing technologies with the less conventional. Audio, video, image, hypertext — they will teach me more about writing by writing less. They will reveal how much I missed. By using new and available technologies, students, through their projects, will show me why it is important to think critically about New! Improved! web services that attempt to help the novice create like the professional. I have to remember that, more often than not, the degree of facility granted in software often comes at the expense of informed consent. In other words, I can use Blogger or Wordpress to create a webpage in only minutes, but a great many design decisions will have been made for me (Arola, 2010). I want students to see this when it happens and to engage critically with the power they lose and the power they gain.

But I only just learned how to use these technologies myself. How am I supposed to teach all of this? My blank stare and fears are real.

thirdspacing the university: performing spatial and visual literacies hello/goodbye: project introduction/conclusion bringing svr to fyc: video responses and experiences orientation: svr, theory, and invention thirdspace: mapping svr at the university of arizona references: all text sources used in my project
Return bar menu Home Crump and Verzosa Fodrey Archer Haley-Brown Holmes Juarez Martin Vinson

bringing svr to fyc:
video responses and experiences

[  Crystal Fodrey  ]    [  Ashley J. Holmes  ]    [  Anita Furtner Archer  ]


Anita's Video Transcript