Having produced and edited new work I was conscious that I needed to engage with the task of editing the recorded interviews that I conducted. I was reluctant to do this immediately as it is an emotional task to listen to the struggles of others and needs to be done when I am alone which isn’t very often in my household.
When reviewing the audio I felt at odds regarding the appropriate production values I should be applying to this work. In order to make this work I have been using the voice recording function using my phone. I did consider using a zoom microphone but I felt that would be an unnecessary barrier between myself and the interviewees.
A mobile phone is an everyday item which most carry around with them, therefore I felt this was a good option as this project is about emotion as opposed to aesthetics. And in using a mobile phone I feel that in using an everyday item, It was one less barrier in addition to the camera. I made this choice because it felt like the correct thing to do. The camera is already an object which carries aggressive connotation, as Sontag refers to its ability to violate someone. Having already conducted some interviews, I feel that the more I act like I am making a production, the more guarded a collaborator would be. In this instance, the person I am collaborating with, I care about greatly.
In this instance Chalfen (2011) reminds that ‘a project initiated by a caring individual within a context may be an act of responsibility or personal interest’. Sentiments that very much apply this this project. Although, with a technical mid frame taken from a background working in factual TV. I felt that to enable Nathan to tell his story with maximum authenticity, he needed to collaborate with a trusted friend and not a documentary maker. Barthes (1981) suggests that “authentication exceeds the power of representation”. and I agree in case, the content of the interview being far more important than the production values. I also feel that the strength of the collaboration is rooted in the power of the content which moves the project beyond the aesthetic.
When editing the audio, I started by removing as much of my voice as possible. I didn’t want the presentation to encompass any manipulation on my part. This is a further contested territory but an approach which reminds of the advice provided by Colin Pantall in recent webinars who continually encourages to think about the work in relation to being able to frame a broader story and in the case of the story I am trying to tell, my input regarding the words of others I feel needs to be minimal. However I am aware that I am very much a collaborator within this process by enabling participants to express their thoughts and views. My approach to this is informed by (Helguera 2011) who suggests that ‘participation creates vitality‘. Which aligns with my views on the process of conducting interviews as I feel that my role is to facilitate an open dialogue. In my last meeting with Laura I asked her about how she creates a sense of intimacy within her own work and she simply responded by suggesting ‘I’m an open book’. Which may seem an ambiguous statement but I totally understand this comment as a result of the interview experiences.
Having performed an initial cull of the audio, my thoughts were that I still had too much information therefore, having had a break, I went back to the edit and cut the interview further, in doing this, my objective begun to emerge in a clearer sense. At this stage I had begun to establish some specific micro narratives which were insightful in the area of the mental health theme I was challenging. As a result, I felt the relevant areas of this interview were:
Early years and childhood
Time in prison
Experiences of poor mental health
Having established these themes I then needed to consider the quandary of how to frame, or present the story. At this stage the technical versus the emotional required mediation. In response, the passages I have included within this post, encompass what I would describe as semi structured or open narratives. This felt like the correct direction as it is my intention to provide context to the aesthetics of the photographs whilst still requiring the audience to still engage with a level of interpretation. Hall (1999, p. 514) highlights ‘By the word reading we mean not only the capacity to identify and decode a certain number of signs, but also the subjective capacity to put them into a creative relation between themselves and with other signs’ And in discussing the act of interpretation, I am now at a stage where I am interested in how an audience would read the audio an image in order to produce interpretations. I will need to seek feedback on this issue and it will be necessary to take on board critical feedback attentively. Read (2017) Comments ‘feedback from others may necessitate feeling one’s way through the process of making work’. And offers a tangible way of negating the process of conducting interviews. At this stage I feel that my edits are short, engaging and have a type of narrative which offers a resolution. However feedback on this issue will be as important as my own thoughts in this area.
Helguera (2011:P11) Comments that ‘socially engaged art is often characterised by the activation of members of the public in roles that go beyond passive receptor…. in the spirit of these practices, often expands expand the depth of the social relationship promoting empowerment, criticality and sustainability’.
In collaborating with Nathan I feel that the impact on him was a positive one, he commented that he had told me that having spoken about his personal experiences made him good in addition to receiving a positive message from his partner on the evening after the collaboration with her suggesting that the impact on him was positive.
Going forward I will be editing my second interview in order to extrapolate the richest information in addition to being economical in producing micro narratives which are able to hold audience attention.
The coming week will not be prioritised with making work, rather the emphasis will be to focus on presenting the work I already have in order to amplify its meaning/impact on the audience.
Barthes, Roland (1981) Camera Lucida, London, Vintage.
Chalfen, R. ‘Differentiating Practices of Participatory Visual Media Production’ in Pauwels, L. & Margolis, E. (2011) The SAGE handbook of visual research methods. Los Angeles: Sage.
Hall, Stuart (1999) ‘Encoding, Decoding’ in The Cultural Studies Reader. London, Routledge.
Helguera (2011) Education for Socially Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook. New York, Jorge Pinto Books.
Read and Simmons (2017) Photographers and Research, The Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice. Taylor and Francis, New York.