Run by MODE – a node of the National Centre for Research Methods and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council at The London Knowledge Lab, IoE. Although I found parts of this interesting, ultimately I felt I didn’t really belong in this multimodal seminar. I kept wondering why I wasn’t so gripped…. an unusual situation for me. Multimodal theory revolves around how non-verbal data: gesture, gaze, posture, movement, manipulation/action/touch/facial expression/sound/speech and the negotiation of space can be understood in video clips. We looked at 3 data sets. One an FE drama/dance rehearsal (Andrea Milde), one a documentary style film concerning a homeless man in Peterborough (Teresa Cairns) and the other an everyday incident involving 2 young children in a nursery (Penny Lawrence).
We mused for several minutes on whether a girl was turning away 60 degrees or merely turning to one side by 45 degrees and the implications of making that judgement in relation to the researcher’s reluctance to interpret the data rather than just transcribe it …. it was weird. No background info is given either.
At the moment I’m finding other research methods’ adherence to 100% objectivity difficult, especially as I’m looking into more interpretive methods where the act of interpretation is more likely to be valued. Another researcher transcribed every vocal utterance, movement and facial expression of a teacher but gave us no contextual information. This is frowned upon in the multimodal camp as it might skew analysis of the data – it’s all about the data, just the data and only the data….. I can’t see this is a method I’ll be adopting – I’m interested in representation, the decisions behind certain production techniques and the embedded nature of a text. I asked questions about camera positioning and why the decision to exclude the young people in the class and their perspective on the power relations that were unfolding in front of them … for example… This raises issues of what’s beyond the frame…. but again this runs counter to the primacy of the visible data…. and the space that is being carved out by the ‘actors’.
Every camera decision is a compromise, but this isn’t seen as important by this researcher. Discussion on the differences between transcription and description: the former is a selection process concerned with what is salient to the question, the latter is concerned with interpretation, fitting the world into predetermined categories.
Gunter Kress was there – he was nice – very avuncular and seemingly modest. He talked of a video ethnography as an orchestral piece (as Claxton does ref. creativity)… with humans as instruments. At least ‘instruments’ is better terminology than ‘units’ as per someone’s video transcription in the session. He asked pertinent question at the end to which no-one had an answer: ref. filmed reality: Are we looking at the world as reconfigured through the lens or are we looking at a slice of life in the classroom?
More interesting was Teresa Cairns & Denis Doran’s docu style film: climbingthewall.net – a narrative analysis of film work with homeless people: issues of co-authorship & interpretation. She’s an oral historian and he’s a doc film maker.
TC stresses the importance of establishing everyone’s expectations in the process so that assumptions are explicitly identified. Film tells the story of Brian and the narrative he rehearses to get benefits. Film gives voice to certain groups who are invisible in dominant narrative. TC commissioned to make doc for different audiences with different expectations. Interestingly – it broke ‘the rules’ of documentary by fragmenting time, reflecting theme of homelessness.
TC: “You wait and you wait and then you get loads” – to this, the question was raised… “So whose story is being told here?” with all the material on the cutting room floor? The work is in finding what you’re looking for rather than letting the participant tell their story? Am ambivalent about the way this doc was filmed: much more engaging obviously because of story format but how representative of the subject is it? how rigorous? Is it therefore best to completely re-articulate the data (like “Rufus Stone”) to circumvent the argument that you’re looking for specifics..?
Penny Lawrence: the reception class – Research on: how do we know what it’s like to be 2 years old? – looks for co-occurence and change in mode and attention. Daniel Stern, Martin Buber. Ferre Laevers Scales of Involvement? Okam’s rasor. Communication as 55% visual and 45% vocal. How can this be described as evidence
How to deal with a child seeking help/acknowledgement of an injustice ethically? PL suggests a ‘cat blink’ as deliberate ethical acknowledgment from camera operator.
Video as very thick description .. important to transcribe what everyone can see first then go back and make hypotheses.