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Symbolic Camera.

The creative process, reactions and interactions to the camera.

The Process

When I made my symbolic camera, I did not have a concrete idea for the film I wanted to make – which is represented by the empty storyboard on the back on the camera display. Story-boarding is one of the most traditional ways of mapping out the film you intend to make and the footage you intend to shoot. My criteria were simple though: it had to be something I would find enjoyable, and something that would make me happy. Coincidentally, capturing these happy, enjoyable moments are what cameras are used for in everyday life.  The process I went through was to collect things I was passionate about.

I have a love for France and speaking French. I worked in Provence over the summer and lived there during my year abroad, so there are several people and places there that mean a lot to me. To represent this aspect of my life, I found an old French reading list from a module I took out there called “l’anthropologie visuelle”. This was my first experience of visual anthropology and given that it was taught in French, I had a lengthy introduction to the work of Jean Rouch. Eventually I decided that going back to France for the purpose of this project was not feasible.

Whilst on the hunt for things that I was passionate about, it was clear that I would have to include sailing. Everyone that knows me often mocks me for constantly talking about sailing, but I enjoy everything about it. From just being out on the water in a different environment,to spending time with the people I value most, and getting a rush from the competitive aspect of the sport too. In the end I came to the conclusion that this would be my focus.  

The symbolic camera was used as a vehicle for public engagement. It was interesting to see that some people could immediately tell it was a gimmick whereas some people tried to use the functions I had made, like the shutter button for example.

I took the camera around the re-fresher’s fair –a fair that the university has in January.  I stopped and chatted to my friends at the sailing stand and showed them the camera which got them interacting with it. I was able to see who was comfortable around it and who acted unnaturally to its presence.  This also triggered a discussion about the purpose of this course and my project idea that would include them. 

The camera is plain (white), it is the size of a digital camera and looks somewhat like one too. I actually found that I got more questions walking around at the lake with the DSLR and Rhode mic attached, than I did when showing the sailors my symbolic camera.This represents the way in which small technological devices blend into society with ease nowadays and that interacting with them is the norm, whilst still highlighting the way in which the subject can act adversely to the filmmaker and his/her camera.

Symbolic Camera

This was a small creative art project set for the Visual Anthropology module at the University of Kent. 

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