Digital Intervention Lecture 2: Dr. Juan Francisco Salazar & Professor Martin Wood

by stronged

Salazar has recently undergone an intensive period of time down in Antartica collating a) an ARC Discovery paper on the Antarctic Problem in the 21st Century, b) an ethnographic, experimental and sci-fi film, and c) a book [monograph] on Antarctic life.

He spoke of Antarctica as being the “most mediated place on earth,” where a state of harmony exists between co-claimants of the terrain, seemingly divorced from their complex geopolitical relationships. Multiple nationalities operate within the same precinct, appropriating their own sense of patriotic National identity by naming their encampment Machu Piccu (Brazil), The Great Wall (China), etc.

Salazar immersed himself in this cocktail of materialities (sounds, languages, symbols, etc.) in the process of capturing the information he needed for the creation of his artefacts, “living in and living through [these] things.” (Kathleen Stewart, 2011)

In the Q & A he explained how, during the period of 1978-1985, both the Chilean and Argentinean governments sent pregnant women down to Antarctica in order to claim sovereignty over the terrain (this was during the lead up to their conflict circa 1984, that the Pope mediated a peaceful resolve for).

Wood spoke of a very different proposition; that of creating a film that can still bare the same weight of a written academic paper within an institutional and scholarly framework. He was involved in the creation of the 23 minute film Lines of Flight, a short documentary that explores the Deleuzian concept that involves using creativity to move yourself out of a restrictive environment, deterritorializing oneself to open up numerous possibilities.

Wood began his talk with some significant quotes, one of which is Whitehead explaining that “the University imparts information, but it imparts it imaginatively…a university fails in this respect has no reason for existence.” (1967, p. 93) Wood is highlighting the importance of innovation and new ways of treating research within academia. “As researchers we should not feel obliged to shoehorn our work into the desired mould.” He suggests a new approach to evaluating video work academically, using six areas of criteria:

  • Incisiveness
  • Concision
  • Coherence
  • Generativity
  • Social Significance
  • Evocation

Within academia, research must be encouraged to operate outside of the box and institutions must learn to love heterodox work. Leo made an important note which I have actually been struggling with recently; a balance must be made between making academically minded work whilst still allowing it to be engaging for a wide audience. I hope to create a project this year for Honours that anyone can experience and enjoy. Academic, essay films I find incredibly cryptic and repulsive when it comes to creating a product of entertainment. This is not to say I am restricting myself to make a comedy, or a light feel-good genre film. I merely wish to create a narrative work that is engaging, provocative and empowering.