Screens as film locations

Authored by: Steffen Köhn

The Routledge International Handbook of Ethnographic Film and Video

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367185824
eBook ISBN: 9780429196997
Adobe ISBN:


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In the light of Internet-based forms of communication and the rise of social media, the screens of our computers, mobile phones, and tablets, have become primary sites for worldly interaction. Their graphical user interfaces now mediate our engagement with the wider world, frame our public self-expressions, and constitute the places where we live out a good deal of our social relations. For Alexander Galloway (2012, p. 32f.), interfaces are autonomous zones of aesthetic activity with their own ability to generate new results and consequences that can tell us something about our contemporary lives. Contrary to popular perception, he argues that they are not transparent “doors” or “windows” that merely mediate seamlessly between our bodies and the external world of devices but rather produce effects, processes, and translations. In this article, I therefore want to propose that the desktop screen is not only an important site for ethnographic research, but also a possible filming location for an emerging mode of documentary filmmaking that fully embraces the poetics of digital culture.

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