Posts Tagged ‘encounter’

Lüneburg. Begegnung, Widerstand und Abwesenheit.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Foto des Empfangsgebäudes im WinterVorgestern hatte ich mein erstes offizielles Vorsingen, im Rahmen meiner Bewerbung auf die von der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg ausgeschriebene Stelle als Juniorprofessor für qualitative sozialwissenschaftliche Methoden. Im Rahmen der Bewerbung musste ich auch einen wissenschaftlichen Vortrag vor der Berufungskommission (und anscheinend auch noch einem Gast) halten. Wie auch sonst üblich, habe ich den zwanzigminütigen Vortrag aufgezeichnet und stelle ihn hier als Videodatei in zwei unterschiedlichen Formaten zur Verfügung:
Ogg Theora (45 MB, für Firefox und VLC) | MP4 (28 MB, für Safari, Chrome und QuickTime).

Video research in the open. Encounters involving the researcher-camera.

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

cover of the book 'Video Interaction AnalysisA few months ago, the book Video Interaction Analysis – Methods and Methodology, edited by Ulrike Tikvah Kissmann has been published. Since this is my first purely methodological publication, I am really looking forward to see how it is received. The opening paragraph of my chapter reads like this:

Filming is an encounter. The person wielding the camera, the camera itself, and the people and things around them enter a dynamic relationship. This relationship unfolds itself according to the rules set by the social, spatial, and material features and practices that constitute it. These features and practices constitute it, but they do not determine it in a linear way – too many contingencies enter the interaction process, disrupting, changing, or reorienting it. […] In this essay, I will focus on the surprising, unplanned side of doing video research, pointing out both the risks and the opportunities that are part and parcel of filming non-staged everyday life in public settings.

After discussing how I am located in the social field as a researcher – in connection to Bourdieu’s discussion of the social field – I switch dimensions and start to discuss my position in the material field:

But what about the position in the material field? Is that not the same thing as the geographical location? In the way that materiality is conceptualized for this essay, there is more to this position than physical location. Drawing both on Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of the body (Merleau-Ponty, 1962; Merleau-Ponty and Lefort, 1968) and on works published in the wide field of science and technology studies (Garfinkel et al., 1981; Latour, 1987; Pickering, 1995), I want to propose that the position I take as a bodily actor in the material field at least temporarily becomes that of a hybrid of man and machine: a camera-researcher. The way I position myself is guided by the way I observe with and as the camera, by the way the camera observes with and as me.

These are the two main conceptual vectors which propel the discussion forward: a focus on the open-ended encounters that constitute the field work itself, and an STS focus that helps the analysis to not take the camera itself for granted, making it disappear behind the hand and the eye of the researcher. Equipped with this two vectors, I try to thrust into some problematic aspects of ethnographic research in general and of video-based research in particular.

Review for Encountering Urban Places in Environment and Planning D : Society and Space.

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Yay! Today, my favorite academic journal has published a review of the book Lars Meier and I have edited one year ago. The review was written by Sara Westin. If your university has subscribed to Environment and Planning D, then you can download the review here: DOI 10.1068/d2605rvw. For those who are not in such a lucky position I will to post two snippets from the review – the first about the book as a whole, the second about the chapter written by yours truly:

The different texts can be read as freestanding articles, but what bind them together—except for the focus on the urban encounter and the use of the visual—are the explicit or implicit references to the works of Lefebvre. This is a clever editorial arrangement that results in something more than the sum of all parts. Last but not least, it is uplifting to take part in urban research that to such a high degree is produced outside the Anglo-Saxon context: only three of the ten contributors are working in universities in the United States (not a single one in the UK or in Canada). The non-Anglo-Saxon focus, which is not something that is made explicit by the editors, is to a certain extent reflected in the choice of examples as well as in the bibliographies […] Conclusively, although slightly overpriced, Encountering Urban Places is an interesting book that provides not only a rematerialization but also a diversification of the urban research tradition.

I find Encountering Urban Places incredibly inspiring since it offers a range of interesting ways to explore the multidimensionality of everyday encounters and how these encounters may play a part in the production of places. Here I especially want to mention Frers’s concept of ‘envelopment’—an analytic tool which can be used to understand the constant interaction between things and people that characterizes everyday urban encounters and to evoke a sense of what we experience and help understand why we do certain things (page 44). The concept refers to the process that unfolds when we are moving around in the city. As we enter different social – material – spatial constallations we are constantly enveloped by impressions—all of which configure our behaviour. However, Frers stresses, this is not a passive process—we are not just being enveloped by our surroundings, we are also enveloping ourselves. By drawing on Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Frers challenges the Cartesian mind – body dichotomy as well as the division between agency and perception: our intentions, our mood, our corporal condition all play crucial parts in the envelopment process since they filter our perception, which in turn guides our actions. Frers analysis focuses on the in-between space—the envelope—that extends into both actor and surrounding. The concept does not refer to an object in the real world (page 34), but rather to a constantly changing process which although subtle, is extremely powerful since it restrains and enables action.

We’re of course really, really glad about getting such a positive review! Hopefully it will attract some new readers for our book. :) In any case it provides a lot of motivation to see that people enjoy the fruits of the work that has been invested into this volume by all of its contributors.

Reviewing science.

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Maybe I have just found an explanation for the rise of sales: our book Encountering Urban Places got a very favorable review by Philip Lawson (Trinity College, Dublin) for the UGRG Book Review Series. Here is his conclusion – I’ll start the citation after his critique is over, of course… ;)

Overall, however, I find this a thoroughly interesting and thought provoking book. It really was not until I had finished reading it that I started to think about the various examples and how they are connected together. The variety of authors and topics illustrate how differing contexts shape urban social space in different ways. As is often the case with edited volumes, readers will find different essays interest them more than others. This is why it makes such a valuable contribution to the field of urban studies. I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the relationship between social and physical urban space and whether this be undergraduate, graduate, academic, for teaching, or even in terms of planning or architectural practice.

Thanks for the encouragement!

An innovative approach to visual experience in the city.

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

That is what Lars Meier and I were striving for when working on our new book Encountering Urban Places – Visual and Material Performances in the City, which is going to be published late this year. To our delight, the publisher has now prepared the website for this book on urban places and their relation to life in the city. We are very happy with the contributions we were able to gather for this volume, because the authors all put a real focus on developing the main theme of the volume in their individual chapters: visual performances – that is, the ways in which what we see, what is displayed in our actions and in material artifacts impacts and interacts with social life, producing contests about social control, hierarchy, and representation. If you are interested in the theory, the methodology, and the practices of implementing the visual in social sciences and geography, this book is a must-have.>

Perception, Aesthetics, and Encapsulation – Encountering Space and the Materiality of Railway and Ferry Terminal Buildings.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

Following is my abstract for our college’s concluding conference on Technological and Aesthetic (Trans)Formations of Society in October. Writing this has renewed my good feelings and motivation for this conference.

Terminals are places of modernity, of transport and communication. They are portals to the city, places of representation and power, but they are also places of deviance, decline and seduction. In this presentation, I will look at the polished stone, steel and glass surfaces but I will also look into the shadows and plumb the depths of these places. How do they interact with the people that use them? The aesthetics of the things, the technology and the architecture of railway and ferry terminals is perceived by women and men who use these places. Entering these places, people change direction, speed and mood. To capture and analyze these changes, happening in the crucial moment of entering a place, I want to introduce the term encapsulation (Einhhüllung).

With the aid of digital video recordings the different aspects of the process of encapsulation will be explored and displayed for consideration and critique. Encapsulation is projected as phenomenologically rooted term that has both passive and active components. Passive, because people are encapsulated by a specific, preexistent atmosphere when they enter a place. Active, because people encapsulate or envelop themselves when they enter a place. They build up a protective cover around them, to shield them from potential dangers and irritations. Confronting the abstract analytical term encapsulation with concrete everyday life in railway and ferry stations should demonstrate both its productivity and its limitations.