More Than Words: Co-Creative Visual Ethnography

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From the Introduction:

The way I write is who I am, or have become, yet this is a case in which I wish I had instead of words and their rhythms a cutting room, equipped with an Avid, a digital editing system on which I could touch a key and collapse the sequence of time, show you simultaneously all the frames of memory that come to me now, let you pick the takes, the marginally different expressions, the variant readings of the same lines. This is a case in which I need more than words to find the meaning. (Didion, 2005, p. 7)

“This chapter explores the development of a shared, visual ethnographic practice with newcomer communities in Ireland. Using more than words to find meaning, research practitioners considered the multiple frames of their audio-visual narratives–“the marginally different expressions, the variant readings of the same lines.” They edited their audio-visual stories–collapsing and re-opening the sequence of time, selecting images, determining the shot length, the camera movement, and the dialogue and pacing between images. Over time, in this practice of inquiry through media production, participants–the majority of whom had no prior experience critically engaging with photography and video editing–developed diverse approaches to conceptualizing and representing their experiences as newcomers to Ireland. By considering the audio-visual worlds of lived experiences participants developed multi-layered representations of Ireland–immigrant representations of Ireland. Some participants developed their approach to photography through a realist paradigm–seeking visual evidence, interrogating asylum and migrant labor regimes, and forensically documenting their case while other participants developed more poetically interpretative approaches to their visual voice” (Alexandra 2017a: 113).