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Reviews in Anthropology, 37: 279301, 2008 Copyright # Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0093-8157 print=1556-3014 online

DOI: 10.1080/00938150802398644

AESTHETICS VERSUS KNOWLEDGE: AN AMBIGUOUS MIXTURE OF GENRES IN VISUAL ANTHROPOLOGY

Lorenzo Brutti
-Ethnography. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Feld, Steven, ed. Cine Press, 2003. viii 401 pp. MacDougall, David. The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography and the Senses. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006. xvi 312 pp. Marano, Francesco. Anni Cinquanta e Coccinelle che volano: Video e ` Poetiche della Memoria Etnografica. Nardo: Besa Editrice, 2005. 172 pp. Schneider, Arnd and Christopher Wright, eds. Contemporary Art and Anthropology. Oxford: Berg, 2006. xvi 223 pp. Visual anthropology is both a descriptive and an aesthetic endeavor. Filmed ethnography, for example, is a powerful scientific tool for documenting reality, but it is also often used to express anthropologistfilmmakers personal artistic visions. This mixture of science and aesthetics has indirectly but deeply influenced anthropological theory, and has also contributed to visual anthropologys unclear definition in academia since it constitutes a terra nullius between science and art. This mixture of aesthetics and knowledge has practical consequences in the anthropology of art.
LORENZO BRUTTI is an anthropologist and researcher (chercheur) at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Centre de Recherche et Documentation sur lOceanie. A Melanesianist, his interests include cultural change, mining impacts, mass industry and autochthonous identities, multimedia anthropology, trans-cultural communication, and cross-cultural ` psychology. He is author of Les Papous: Une diversite singuliere (2007) and co-editor with Anna Paini of La terra dei miei sogni: Esperienze di ricerca in Oceania (2002). Address correspondence to Lorenzo Brutti, CNRS-CREDO UMR 6574, Maison Asie Pacifique, Universite de Provence, 3, place Victor Hugo, 13003 Marseille, France. E-mail: lorenzo.brutti@pacific-credo.fr

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Keywords: Aesthetics, contemporary art, documentary, ethnographic film, visual anthropology

The French visual anthropologist Pierre Jordan used to start his seminars addressing the audience with the following sentence: Every anthropology is visual since it proceeds from a sight and it is built on the base of observation. The rest is just a matter of technical tools, one would add. Technical tools to record and diffuse by audiovisual means have developed so incredibly in the last two decades that today is almost impossible to be an anthropologist without being a visual anthropologist, too. However, when a scientifically based discipline like anthropology meets aesthetically based disciplines like art and cinema, the consequent exogamic union begets prolific ambiguous offspring. The products of this union sometimes abandon scientific paths to seek adventure in more subjective dimensions, which are nevertheless additional ways of doing anthropology. Since its origins, cinema has been intended for the visual documentation of the other. The first moving images were of ethnographic interest since they could achieve a descriptive goal of illustrating faraway realities. In 1894 Thomas A. Edison shot Native Americans with his kinetoscope, and in 1897 Auguste and Louis ` Lumiere filmed Ashanti people using their first movie camera. Though a stage was often built for such occasions, as for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show or for the ethnographic reconstitution of an Ashanti village in Lyon, France (Jordan 1992), the pioneers of visual documentation had an amateur ethnographic aim and a clear interest in exotic people. An ethnographic aim was more properly achieved few years later by several pioneering researchers. Filming with the explicit goal of enriching ethnography was used, for example, by Alfred Cort Haddon during the Cambridge University Expedition to the Torres Straits in 1898, by Walter Baldwin Spencer in Central Australia in 1901, by Rudolph Poch in New Guinea in 1904, and by Heinrich Tischner in the Caroline and Solomon Islands and in New Guinea between 1908 and 1910 (Jordan 1992). These are just few of the most famous scientists who traveled, in the early years of ethnology, into the field to film native peoples in authentic landscapes. Filming fictional or authentic frames, recreating situations in a studio or pursuing observations in the field, the methods of the first filmmakers focused mainly on passive observation of a scene, minimizing their interventions as cinematic directors. Although at the end of the 19th century cinematographic technical tools where limited, that constraint did not constitute a definite edge to the creativity of the filmmakers.

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` Indeed, the French filmmaker Georges Melies produced wonderful inventions in his films: shot just few years after the birth of cinema in his studios of Montreuil, near Paris. Some of his cinematographic ` findings remain in use today. By contrast, Auguste Lumiere was a sort of scientist, a neutral observer inspired by his elder brother who was a famous doctor and administrator in their fathers photographic ` business. Cameramen working for Lumieres company were sent all over the world to capture real shots of foreign peoples in exotic situations. Their observations were a sort of visual anthropology ante ` litteram and Lumieres approach is indeed quite ethnographic tending to documentthough its purpose was amusing paying audiences in movie theaters. In the same years and in the same ` context, Melies acted as a creative artist, exploiting all the possibilities of the new tool. He was a genial trickster inventing cinematographic tricks to persuade the audience that what they saw on the ` screen was real. In other words, Melies showed the reality of illusion ` while the Lumiere brothers showed the illusion of reality. On these historical bases, it seems already that from its very beginning and at least in the French tradition, film must deal with an omnipresent dichotomy of aesthetics versus science, creation versus reproduction, invention versus discovery. In looking at the ethnographic film production of the early years, which was essentially a ` documentary one, from the Lumiere brothers and Edisons material until the more proper visual ethnography collected by the first professional visual anthropologists, the spectator may realize that aesthetic features did not particularly characterize the camera works of that period. Even when it was recreated for the purpose of being recorded, an event was filmed in the most simple way, without artistic purpose. That was probably due to the fact that the newborn science of anthropology had the sincere though often illusory goal of simply recording observed reality. WHEN AESTHETICS AND ETHNOGRAPHY MIX Though some of the earliest filmmakers had ethnographic interests, in France more than half a century separated the invention of cinema from the birth of true ethnographic film. Jean Rouch (1917 2004) is commonly considered the founder of French ethnographic film, and it is to Rouch that Steven Felds edited book Cineethnography (2003) is dedicated. Felds volume is certainly the most complete book in English about the work of this paramount character of visual anthropology. It is probably due to the combination of the anthropological (Feld 1982), audiovisual (Feld 2001)

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and aesthetic (Feld and Basso 1996) sensibility of the editor that such a comprehensive and rich account of a lifework has been concentrated into a single book. The book starts with English translations of four essays in visual anthropology that Rouch wrote between 1960s and 1970s. In The Camera and Man Rouch (2003a) writes about ethnographic cinemas approach to history, methods, prospects, and problems. The Situation and Tendencies of the Cinema in Africa (Rouch 2003b) is an historically valuable piece on the filmic representation of Africa and Africans, the colonial gaze, and representation. The other two essays are specifically ethnographic concerning the Songhay (Rouch 2003c) and the Dogon (Rouch 2003d). Four conversations and interviews complete the book. One, with Lucien Taylor (2003), covers his personal background in which he locates himself not only as an anthropologist and filmmaker but also as an artist and intellectual in the broadest historical sense. Enrico Fulchignoni (2003) pushes Rouch to rethink his career locating the experience and the experiments of each film within larger narratives of Rouchs poetics and politics. John Marshall and John W. Adams (2003) discuss certain of Rouchs films. Cineaste magazine critics Dan Georgakas, Udayan Gupta, and Judy Ganda (2003) consider the politics of cinema and ethnography. After the writing by Rouch and about Rouch, Felds book presents the English translation of the 1962 Edgar Morin essay, Chronicle of a Film (Morin 2003) documenting one of Rouchs best known films, Chronicle of a Summer (Rouch and Morin 1961). Rouchs (2003e) essay The Cinema of the Future on the birth of cinema direction follows. Then there is a complete transcript of the film Chronicle of a Summer (Rouch and Morin 2003a). Finally Rouch and Morin present their post film interviews with the principal participants in The Point of View of the Characters (Rouch and Morin 2003b). An annotated filmography (Feld 2003:345384) and a bibliography (Feld 2003:385389) close the collection of Rouchs documents. In Rouchs films the neutral description typical of scientific observation is often replaced by a more engaged, personal approach. In Les matres fous (1955) Rouch mixes the participant-observation of his film camera with the interpretation of the anthropologist given as comments in voice over. The result is the documentation of a spirit possession ritual that tends to direct the sight and the attention of the viewer. In Les matres fous the analysis of the ethnologist shifts often to the aesthetic rendering of a filmic poetics, defending the African people against the power of white colonialism.

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The past two generations of ethnographic filmmakers in France and probably all over the world of documentary film in anthropologyhave been deeply influenced by Rouchs style of filming ethnographic data and treating ethnological discourse. Nevertheless, rarely was Rouchs approach merely descriptive and analytical in the strict sense of the anthropological discipline. In his films Rouch was more influenced by his empathetic and aesthetic perceptions of his African actors and by his political engagement and social commitment in their defense against colonialism. A similar approach was employed during the same period by the then rising star of French anthropology, Claude Levi-Strauss. His Tristes Tropiques (1955) is a literary piece where ethnographic description moves forward to encounter ethnological poetics. The result is often a nostalgic enchantment that evokes a vanishing wildness in the best legacy of Jean-Jacques Rousseaus philosophical writings (e.g., 1755) accompanied by a revulsion for the consequences of the impact of mass industry like rubber production on Brazils autochthonous societies. Although Levi-Strauss provided a lot of ethnographic data in that book, his main emphasis was on his subjective and emotional vision. As the son of a painter, Levi-Strauss was probably more sensible to what he perceived as the artistic expression of Amazonian societies. Tristes Tropiques is rich in the authors drawings of Amazonian art motifs he observed on bodies and material objects. In his passion for drawing while collecting ethnographic data, Levi-Strauss launched among scholars a trend often followed in subsequent decades. For example, in the French edition of Philippe Descolas (1994) monograph In the Society of Nature: A Native Ecology in Amazonia, each chapter opens with a drawing by the anthropologist. If drawings were necessary to enrich ethnographic description before the era of photography, why continue to use these pictorial, aesthetic descriptions if not to add an artistic dimension to the work of the ethnographer? Today, more than half a century after the first edition of Tristes Tropiques and the first screening of Les matres fous it seems appropriate to wonder about the emotional and subjective dimension pervading written as well as audiovisual anthropology in France and still influencing generations of anthropologist in their writings as well as in their films. Insofar as ethnographic anthropology has had difficulty, at least in France, demonstrating its epistemological rigor compared to other sciences, this is partially due to its oftenprominent artistic approach, which introduces a subjective dimension to scientific discourse. Some critics may argue that hard sciences accounts do not need aesthetics, they simply work since the

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results of their findings may be repeated. So-called soft sciences, such as anthropology, including its visual dimension, may need to seduce readers with their aesthetic form since the facts they present are not always sufficient to convince readers of anthropologists arguments. That may be one of the paramount taboos in the social sciences and in visual anthropology as well: form supplies content, while aesthetics provides meaning in the absence of sense. This is true for both written and visual anthropology. In respecting history, one must distinguish between the lifework of Jean Rouch and the man himself. What Felds book does not describe is the situation seen from inside France. In order to provide a balanced historical frame for Jean Rouchs controversial role in the history of French ethnographic film, one must note that his personality was, like virtually all prominent academics, quite complex. An engineer by training, Rouch attained academic fame as an outsider, building a creative and subjective approach to ethnographic film that opposed more traditionally academic and cumulative approaches, like that of Margaret Mead for instance, which were dominant at the time. Rouch personified a mixture of adventurer and rebel in French popular culture. He became a culture hero inside the new discipline of Cinema dobservation as Leroi-Gourhan defined ethnographic film in 1948 (MacDougall 2006:228). French culture needed a dominant character to embody a discipline in a sort of national metonymy: in the frame of human and social sciences Jean Martin Charcot (18251893) had filled the bill for neurology, as had Emile Durkheim (18581917) for sociology. Claude Levi-Strauss (1908present) and Jacques Lacan (19011981) were just building their reputations in anthropology and psychoanalysis. In the same years, the 1950s and 1960s, Rouch was going to be the right character to fill the empty case of ethnographic film. He acquired such a strong aura, at least inside France, that he was able to climb all the steps of an institutional career and beyond, until being promoted to president of the ` Cinematheque francaise which is more an artistic institution than a scientific one. Claude Levi-Strauss has likewise collected a plethora of scientific and artistic acknowledgements, first of all his admission at the Academie francaise, a special honor reserved for exquisite novel writers and definitely rare for a scientist. This is a further point of communion between art and science, which has characterized French anthropology and ethnographic since the golden years. Rouch acted like a chief, a paramount chief. He had a decisive influence on the destination of institutional budgets concerning ethnographic film projects. From the early 1960s to the late 1990s the

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majority of human resource and budget decisions concerning anthropological film in France had to pass through Jean Rouchs lens. He supported the careers of some of his pupils and criticized great ethnographic filmmakers who were not following the Rouch way, but were trying to be more ethnographic, insisting on shooting documentary films without a subjective interaction with the people to safeguard the objective distance of ethnographer (Jean-Dominique Lajoux, personal communication, November 2001). Rouch made almost all of his own films with close collaborators and, with few exceptions such as the French ethnologist Germaine Dieterlen, avoided working with other anthropologists in the field. Probably because of the African orientation of ethnographic film between the 1960s and the 1980s, it was awfully hard for French anthropologists doing fieldwork on other continents to find national funding in their own country (Maurice Godelier, personal communication, April 2000). As strange as it may seem for so talented a character, Rouch was extremely resistant to technical innovation. He was a strong enemy of video. Because of his hatred of this new technology producing a frame the size of a stamp, as he used to repeat, he make it compulsory for filmmakers screening their work at the Parisian festival, Bilan du film ethnographique, to convert their video into film until the early 1990s. This caused the first generation of anthropologists using videobecause it was cheaper than filmto be excluded for years from the Bilan. Only in the last decade have organizers of the Bilan succumbed to evidence of the video revolution and started to include video works. And the Bilan itself was a typical ritual enacted for decades by the same characters with Rouch directing the action, recounting the same anecdotes of his youth to each edition of the festival, with people laughing at the same jokes, always held in the frame of the historic screening theater at the Musee de lHomme. Especially during the last years, the ritual became a psychodrama with Rouch shouting against the forthcoming transfer of the Musee de lHommes collections to the new Musee du Quai Branly. A rising paramount institutional power was going to engulf a vanishing one, but they were so similar to each other, being both the expression of science soiled by politics. One shudders to think what Rouch would have said if he would have known that just one year after his death the new organizers of the Bilan du Film Ethnographique decided charge entry fees for tickets, while he as a left-wing activist had maintained for decades the gratuity of the screenings. What would he have said had he known that just two years after his death, Bilan organizers decided to move to the opposite bank of the Seine River, to the brand new movie theater inside the Musee du Quai Branly, his

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rightwing paramount enemy, against whom Rouch have fought for years? Nevertheless, nothing has still sensibly changed in the cultural landscape of French ethnographic film since it is no exaggeration to say that Rouch and his very close circle succeeded in banning the expression of new talent and freezing the burgeoning of new ideas in French ethnographic film for decades, from the 1960s to the present. With his departure from the stage, an era is waning even if these hard times have not yet vanished because Rouch placed disciples in strategic posts, inhibiting, at least in the Parisian frame, new voices from rising up from the crowd. Le roi est mort. Vive le roi! [The king is dead. Long live the king!] WHERE AESTHETICS MEET ANTHROPOLOGICAL THEORY Compared to Jean Rouchs oeuvre, David MacDougall produces deeper and more balanced ethnography and makes fewer concessions to art while beingparadoxicallyeven more aesthetically rich. In the introduction of his The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography and the Senses (MacDougall 2006), he states that one of the functions of art as well as science is to help us understand the being of others in the world. Images reflect thought, and they may lead thought, but they are much more than thought. . . . When we look at things, our perception is guided by cultural and personal interests . . . and, moreover, a complex construction such as a film or photograph has an animal origin. Corporeal images are not just the images of other bodies; they are also images of the body behind the camera and its relations with the world. (MacDougall 2006:13). MacDougall lists a series of three different modes of looking with a camera in documentary film: responsive camera, by which the filmmaker reacts to the action; interactive camera, in which the action is influenced by the filmmakers responses to the changing action; and constructive camera, in which the filmmaker is proactive and directs the scene. More precise than Rouch about the role of images, MacDougall (2006:5) is frank when he states that for the humanities and social sciences, images are a form of observational data. In this sense, according to MacDougall, filming is a form of looking, and unlike writing, in many respects it precedes thinking. He illustrates this with the example of novice videographers tendency to move the camera about in a constant and dissatisfied search, as though its wandering gaze would reveal something hidden (MacDougall 2006:7).

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In his chapter The Body in Cinema, there is parallel between MacDougalls distinction between life and art on the one hand, and corporeal versus incorporeal on the other. This dichotomy is reminiscent of the bipolarity between art and science, aesthetics and knowledge, subjective and objective. Concerning cinema, MacDougall (2006:24) writes that the cinema affects the spectator corporeally through its construction of imaginary spaces and its evocation of real ones. MacDougall (2006:28) argues that the bodies of the subject, the filmmaker, and the viewer become interconnected and in some ways undifferentiated. MacDougall quotes Alfred Gell (1992, 1998), insisting that art be seen as more a matter of agency and power than of aesthetics and meaning, operating in a field of desire and conventions, as a technology of influence and enchantment. MacDougall has found here an elegant and appropriate way to resolve the contrast between art and science by integrating the two approaches in a whole model in which the physical dimension is diluted in the unphysical one and concur by achieving a product perceptible by the eyes in concert with the mind in terms of objective knowledge, which is the aim of science. In Voice and Vision, MacDougall deals with the cumulative approach in filming, providing a comprehensive and composite account of an event by recording only a single perspective at a time: as in writing, the filmmaker must therefore proceed analytically, constructing a new reality out of fragments, seeing it as much with the mind as with the eye (MacDougall 2006:34). MacDougall suggests that what is cumulative in writing becomes, in the cinema, composite. The composite vision of photographs and films offers a way of exploring connections in the social world often lost in writing, much as writing offers a way of recording conclusions about society unavailable to film (MacDougall 2006:38). Comparing written and filmic discourse, MacDougall says that when writing, as he selects one or another world, he thinks about how it fits or fails to fit the half-articulated sense he has in mind; when, in contrast, he is making a film, he is constantly confronted by shots that are filled with both relevant and extraneous matter at every level. Ethnographic writing is therefore not simply cultural translation, as it is often described, but a completely new object, an object (on a page) of an entirely different order from its object of study (MacDougall 2006:41). In semiotic terms, a translation from writing to filming in visual anthropology is not automatic but encounters all the problems of what Umberto Eco (2007:10) has called intersemiotic translation, decoding sense from one medium to create the same sense by the tools and mode of expression of a different

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medium. Just to remain in the frame of Ecos literary production, his novel Il nome della Rosa (1980) was translated into a movie by French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud as The Name of the Rose (1986). Examples of novels translated into movies are of course countless. By the same logic it would be appropriate for ethnographers to let professional filmmakers turn their ethnographic productions into images. This has actually been tried quite often by filmmakers collaborating with anthropologists to make their own films on the ethnological topic studied by the researcher. Though filmic renderings of ethnological research have not often been presented as intersemiotic translations, the results have often been interesting and constitute pedagogical material used in anthropology courses (see for example, ` concerning New Guinea, Balmes 1999, 2000; Dunlop 1972; Gardner 1964; Jablonko 1982; Kildea 1976; Nairn 1974). These documentary films are indeed very good from an ethnological point of view. Though the documentary filmmakers often did not have scientific training, their goal was to shoot films as scientifically as possible because they were collaborating with an anthropologist. Shot by professionals, these movies are also excellent as films. Such collaborations help ensure that aesthetic and scientific aspects are well balanced and integrated. Ironically, when anthropologists become filmmakersoften to produce images for their own ethnographythey can seem more concerned with the aesthetic dimension of their film than with its scientific contents. In such cases, the movie often turns out to be a lyric reflection on the anthropologist himself or herself (e.g., Breton 2001, 2003), a description of the anthropologists relationship with the informants (e.g., Iteanu and Kapon 2001). Such trends were certainly inspired by Rouchs legacy of filmic narration. Amazingly, when anthropologists become filmmakers, they seem to often lose interest in providing an objective, intersemiotic translation, that is, a translation of research findings from written form into images. Rather, they often concentrate their efforts on producing more subjective narration and place greater emphasis on the aesthetic than on the scientific dimensions, depicting more empathetic participation than disinterested observation. Perhaps the solution for achieving a well balanced andas long as postmodernists would agree with thisa more neutral visual anthropology, is to share the job through collaborations between anthropologists and filmmakers. That, of course, does not mean that anthropologist must refrain from filming. It is best for anthropologists to strive to be as neutral as possible in making pictures, remembering that they are in principle scientists and not artists, whose mandate and duty is to produce knowledge before

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beauty. Of course, if the scientific content of a film is served up in an aesthetically pleasing package, it may help anthropological discoveries to be assimilated more quickly and with greater pleasure by a larger audience. But such an approach to anthropological filmmaking should not be compulsory. WHEN INFORMANTS GET IN THE FRAME Since visual anthropologists are currently discovering new topics either in established visual cultural forms or in evolving uses of visual mediathey may well redefine the terrain of anthropology. One recent phenomenon in visual anthropological research is the study of peoples visual representations of themselves or, as Francesco Marano (2005) calls it in his book Anni Cinquanta e Coccinelle che Volano: Video e poetiche della memoria ethnografica [Nineteen-Fifty and Flying Beetles: Videos and Poetics of Ethnographic Memory], their auto-ethnography. Marano writes about peoples use of video as a tool to describe their own local traditions. This will likely be a permanent theme in visual anthropology, comprising not only the use of audiovisual devices to produce ethnography, but also a research perspective concerning how such productions communicate and disseminate pictures as cultural products. The evolution and spread of light video recording equipment in recent decades has enabled an increase of cinematic recording, not just by professional ethnographers but by everyone else, as in the case of Basilicata, the region in Southern Italy described by the Marano. The inhabitants of that Italian region have begun filming their own traditions to constitute, together with their publications, photographs and exhibitions, several forms of autoethnography whose aim is to communicate aspects of the traditional culture of the video-makers themselves. These documents are reminiscent of the indigenous videos or ethnographic videos studied by Faye Ginzburg (1991). However, the Italian vernacular autoethnographies do not identify traits of ethnicity or manifest antagonism toward the dominant culture, elements that characterize films made by natives of indigenous nations in Brazil, Australia, Canada, or the United States. Moreover, contrary to the kind of reflexive filmed ethnography realized by Sol Worth and John Adair (1972), who gave Navajos the training and tools to film themselves, Marano insists that Basilicata auto-ethnographies are a completely independent initiative of local people. The anthropologist did not interfered with the making of these videos; he simply analyzed them once they were finished

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(Marano 2005:910). Marano studied these video works as discourses, comparing them with oral field data from the same informants. The resulting analysis is not merely the result of reflection on video, but rather an attempt to describe the intertextual weave produced by these discourses in moving from one text to another, partially produced by his presence in the field as a researcher (Marano 2005:12). Vernacular auto-ethnography raises the questions of who should hold the authority to decide what ethnography should be and on what basis. These cinematic auto-ethnographies constitute an unconscious tendency to re-materialize culture, which was reduced to networks of meanings by postmodernist anthropologists (Marano 2005:16). The dichotomy of art as creation versus science as documentation saturates Maranos questions, including: What does the relationship between reconstructing experience and fiction mean? How should we interpret the relationship between a desire to return to an abandoned way of life and the re-enactment necessary to shoot a true image of that way of life? Producing vernacular autoethnographies provides an opportunity to update relationship networks, moves emphasis from social to affective engagement, and provide lived experience with traditions (Marano 2005:35). The films authenticity does not derive from the presence of a visual anthropologist; rather he or she shares common aims with the filmed subjects (Marano 2005:42). But what are these aims, and what do the actors playing for these video auto-ethnographies intend to transmit? An aesthetic community, Marano answers, a concept near to that of social aesthetics developed by David MacDougall (2006:94): a collective narration in which they inscribe their autobiographical accounts, their life histories and their own selves (Marano 2005:45). Marano has found a third way between art and science since he implicitly tries to reconcile in a new frame the two different ways of doing visual anthropology: the classic way, embodied by Margaret Mead, looking at the camera as a documentation tool, and the most creative and subjective way professed by filmmakers like David MacDougall or Jean Rouch. These two ways of doing visual anthropology are now re-appropriated by native auto-ethnographers who put them together in very creative but not less ethnographic terms, in their video works. The spontaneous question is, if autochthonous filmmakers are legitimated in re-creating a traditional frame to record it visually, should not also anthropologists who use this technique? The same reconstruction takes place in experimental archaeology, when researchers reconstruct forgotten techniques by combining trial and error informed by archaeological and

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ethnographic data (see, e.g., Petrequin and Petrequin 2006). Visually recreating ethnographic situations to better analyze and understand them can be of similar value. Techniques of visual reconstruction are commonly used by medical doctors, criminologists, and insurance companies. As psychologists of the Gestalttheorie understood in the early decades of 19th century, to look straight at a scene and so perceive it as a whole, allows the viewer insight and helps understanding. In documentary films shot with the scientific advice of historians, reconstructions of battles and other historical events are frequent. When they are well done, according to the historical sources and respecting scrupulously the context, they may sensibly help the audience to understand and, in this sense, they are even more scientific that writings, which can only solicit the readers imagination verbally. Indeed, if reading a written account leaves room to the subjective imagination, to witness an actionspontaneous or reconstructedleaves much less liberty to the wandering of the audiences minds. An audiovisual description, if reliable to the ethnographic sources, may be considered even more objective than a written ethnography, and this especially for material culture, the main focus of Maranos informants. In this sense, aesthetics may help science in furnishing a more truthful description of an ethnographic context. Art can help anthropology to be more sensitive. AESTHETICS WORKING WITH SCIENCE: CONTEMPORARY ART AND ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH Anthropology, with its principle of cultural relativism, can also help artistic interpretation through awareness of the perils of ethnocentrism. Anthropologists can promote this by practicing a sort of auto-ethnography by approaching contemporary, globalized art as a part of their common background. Anthropologists can also collaborate with artists to achieve a common goal. The anthropology of art has often dealt with classic periods of autochthonous art or, in other cases, with diachronical perspectives on style transformations. Rare are the attempts of anthropology and contemporary art to work together. Arnd Schneider and Cristopher Wrights edited book Contemporary Art and Anthropology (2006b) begins to fill this lacuna. The essays in this book try to stimulate new dialogues between the domains of contemporary anthropology and art and to discern endeavors that encompass both disciplines. They intend to encourage border crossings. The aim of the editors was not to establish contemporary art as an object of anthropological research but to

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encourage fertile collaborations and the development of alternative shared strategies or practice on both sides of the border (Schnider and Wright 2006a:1). Many of the categories involved are unstable and the editors intended to question some of the common-sense assumptions about these two fields:
. . . art and anthropology are both made up of a range of diverse practices that operate within the context of an equally complex range of expectations and constraints. Ideas and practices of training are one key area of differentiation between the two fields and need to be creatively refigured. . . . Even though anthropology, from the perspective of art, is often perceived negatively as a science, both are disciplines in the sense of having canons and practices (however loosely defined), accepted histories (although these are frequently disputed and rewritten), and their own academies and institutions. Art and anthropology have both been active in criticizing and existing at their own boundaries, but they still involve broadly defined ways of working, regular spaces of exhibition, and sets of expectations. [Schneider and Wright 2006a:2]

Both disciplines share specific questions, areas of investigation and, increasingly, methodologies, and there is growing recognition and acceptance of these areas of overlap.
[C]onnections between the two disciplines have become relevant and problematic, with the so called ethnographic turn of contemporary art. This has involved, amongst other things, the adoption of a broad definition of ethnography, and the production of an increasing number of works that directly take some of the concerns in anthropology. From the perspective of contemporary anthropology, the development of DVD and other audiovisual digital technologies has raised the possibilities of an enhanced audiovisual practice in anthropology. This would seem to usher in a new period of creative potential for contemporary anthropology, but, if this is to be a reflexive practice transcending any art=science dichotomy and involve more than the production of illustrated multimedia texts, there needs to be a new approach to images and creativity in anthropology. [Schneider and Wright 2006a:3]

However, one would question, to debate with the editors, why they see the production of a multimedia text as limiting. The great

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revolution of digital media enables scientifically oriented anthropologists to respond to postmodern critics of ethnographic description who make reflexivity the object, rather than a method of ethnography, since today it is easy and cheap for ethnographers to use digital audiovisual devices in the field. Of course, a picture or a video does not confer universal objective reality to an ethnographic datum. Nevertheless, it certainly records and communicates certain ethnographic facts with greater fidelity than a written text can. However, anthropologists frequently find it hard to appreciate the aesthetics and the effects of film in their own right (Schneider and Wright 2006a:6) or simply are not concerned with aesthetics, I would add, in the sense of what Alfred Gell (1992) probably meant when he wrote that anthropologists would not succumb to the enchantment of art (Schneider and Wright 2006a:8). The separation of cinema and anthropology, for example, is the splitting of an exogamic union, begun the early twentieth century but separated into scientific ethnography based on objective observation and documentary film based on subjective agency by the 1930s. This division was of deep consequence for ethnographic fieldwork strategies (Schneider and Wright 2006:22). Even though, Schneider and Wright (2006:8) point out, confirmed masters like David MacDougall develop a practice that may need to define itself not at all in terms of written anthropology but as an alternative to it, as a quite different way of knowing related phenomena . . . , in fact he describes his own recent work as becoming more an art practice. It is still hard to find positions in anthropology with a Ph.D. and scientific productions in the form of mere pictures and sounds without written texts. Furthermore, although visual anthropologists have repeatedly called for the development of new forms of practice, there is still reluctance to deal with those aspects that have been relegated to the realm of the aesthetic, and are therefore considered to be the concern of art, art history, or the anthropology of art (Schneider and Wright 2006:9). One of Schneider and Wrights main arguments is that anthropologys iconophobia and self-imposed restriction of visual expression to text based models needs to be overcome by a critical engagement with a range of material and sensual practices in the arts because, they assume, that this kind of work is better able to engage us bodily (Schneider and Wright 2006a:5). Schneider and Wright (2006a:12) cite Paul Stoller (1989:xvxvi) as arguing that
. . . it is representationally as well as analytically important to considered how perception in non western societies devolves not simply

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from vision . . . but also from smell, touch, taste and hearing so anthropology must include an active exploration of senses other than vision, which has been considered the restricted domain of visual anthropology.

The problem with this argument is that we cannot demand the heuristically autochthonous political correct while simultaneously complaining about the lack of academic positions in anthropology. Rather, we must admit that since anthropology is a scientific discipline with Western origins, it has been applied, developed, and diffused in the form favored in the Western academic tradition, namely writing. This is the reality, even though privileging the literate may look ethnocentric to some, and the variety of sensual experience involved in fieldwork normally disappears from anthropological writing. A further analogy between the artist and the anthropologist is presented by J. Kosuth (1993), who envisions the artist as a model of the anthropologist engaged. Schneider and Wright (2006a:24) explain this position as follows.
Artists are engaged as opposed to the dis-engagement of the anthropologists who are concerned with maintaining the objective distance of scientists. Because the anthropologist is outside of the culture that he studies, he is not a part of the community. . .. Whereas the artist, as anthropologist, is operating within the same sociocultural context from which he evolved. He is totally immersed and has a social impact. His activities embody the culture.

However, one would argue, Western artists have never been so far as they are today from their culture or at least from their audiences. Let me choose an example of a classic artist: when Giotto di Bondone (1266=671337) painted the ceiling of the Scrovegni chapel in Padua, he was doubly close to his audiences. First, he was close to the sophisticated audience of the elite (often his sponsors as well) who were able to discern his genius in inventing rules of perspective rules. Second, he was close to his popular audience for whom he was depicting a simple version of stories taken from the Bible. By contrast, works of current artists are often totally incomprehensible to their large audiences and they are appreciated (and bought) by a restricted audience more on the basis of a fashion phenomenon engendered by oriented art critics than on a sharing of common cultural representations of world and art.

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The works of current artists by Bill Viola (Schneider and Wright 2006:16, 17) or Anselm Kiefer (Schneider and Wright 2006:46), seem very far from both audiences and inspired more by the artists subjective biographies than by their cultural backgrounds. Nor are all anthropologists disengaged. Especially in their native countries, there are many examples of anthropologists who step outside their academic career paths and take on additional responsibilities defending the people they study and others. Nevertheless, I agree with Schneinder and Wrights (2006a:25) core point that the ways in which anthropologists and artists work, make and exhibit should be explored for their productive possibilities in developing new strategies of representation. The book is indeed dense with rich contributions on the parallelism between contemporary artists and anthropologists. Let us expose some of them. Arnd Schneiders chapter focuses on the nature of appropriation as a defining characteristic of the relationship between contemporary art and anthropology, and of the ways in which they both engage with cultural difference (Schneider 2006:29). The author demonstrates that the process of appropriation is fundamental to exchange between cultures and to cultural exchange and this is because a recognition of otherness lies at the bottom of any appropriation, anthropological or artistic (Schneider 2006:48). After all, Schneider says, others represents themselves towards us (artists or anthropologists) not just as inanimate objects but as living subjects or communities of subjects who will voice political, economic, and cultural claims over the symbolical heritage . . . current discussions about cultural property are a reflection of these ongoing claims or struggles over representation and power since the adaptation of anthropological information and practice of artistic appropriation does not occur in a vacuum but is always situated in an historical context of different economic, social, and cultural power relations (Schneider 2006:49). Schneider reaches his main relevant point when arguing that as there are no originals in art, so there are no fixed ethnic, racial, or national categoriesbut only different claims to these by groups and individuals. In some instances roots might be constructed quite independently from genealogical descent, and be informed instead by an insistence on cultural heritage (Schneider 2006:49). Suzanne Kuchler (2006) confronts herself with an elegant reflec tion on art and agency focused on the mathematics and art of knot-sculpture. Kuchler analyzes the works of American sculptor Brent Collins and European sculptor John Robinson and discusses the potential impact of a particularly prominent example of

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contemporary mathematical art upon an anthropological approach to artworks (Kuchler 2006:83). Science, she writes,
backed by computer-generated forms, has merged with art in ways that are most explicit in these sculptural renderings of knot-spanning surfaces. Besides the many critical points that might spring to mind, the merger of the for-centuries distinct realms of science and art might have an unsuspected positive impact upon anthropology by freeing it to reconsider figurative geometric and decorative artworks in other than aesthetic terms. (Kuchler 2006:94)

She concludes by saying that Gells (1992) call to tackle the agency inherent in art has yet to be answered. In an essay co-written by theatrical artist Fernando Caldazilla and George Marcus, the authors lament that experiments with aesthetic issues and textual forms have not become a regular feature of recent anthropological works. In this sense, Caldazilla and Marcus evoke the collaboration between Caldazilla and Abdel Hernandez, a Venezuelan scenographer who became engaged with the challenge of producing an ethnographically influenced installation of a marketplaceso diffuse and fluid in the human action it encompasses, so complexly polyphonous in the voices that define it as a place (Caldazilla and Marcus 2006:97). They proposed to present the results of this workshop in a multimedia course and group of exhibitions and performances at the Department of Anthropology at Rice University. The set of public lectures and departmental seminars with Abdel Hernndez turned out to be a disappointment for the a anthropologists, because they had expected them to be more like performances (entertainments even) and they felt more didactic and scholastic to themjust more of the same (Caldazilla and Marcus 2006:114). Their frank conclusion clearly exemplifies the whole relationship between anthropologists and contemporary artists when they exclaim, how mysterious sustained cross-cultural encounters remain, even among people who believe they share an intellectual agenda and a common set of issues (Caldazilla and Marcus 2006:114). Elizabeth Edwards (2006) analyzes the work of Mohini Chandra not simply as an idiosyncratic articulation of fragments of method and concept but as a a carefully formulated response and translation of field data. It functions like a contemporary ethnographic monograph, translating and extrapolating general understanding from explicit individual observation and experience

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through a conscious subject positioning of the author (Edwards 2006:156). Jonathan Friedmans essay on collection inspired by the work of artist Carlos Capeln is an interesting piece of anthropological cria tique. The anthropologist, says Friedman (2006:169), has and still is somewhat blind to the activity of collection. In fact much recent anthropology has become increasingly ensconced in precisely the genealogical mode, one that seeks to identify objects by tracing their origins. Friedman argues that Capeln is doing something special in a his art: he is paralleling and parodying the anthropological project, the project of collection of the other: here is his humour but also one of the powers of this artistic production (Friedman 2006:174). Capelns constructions, Friedman (2006:175) says, are concrete a spatial forms within which we move. They are anthropological spaces as well, spaces of the collection of the world, the localization of the global. Friedman concludes that
some anthropologists of a globalizing persuasion might tend today to deny that there are different experiential worlds but this is not the aim of Capeln. To deny the real differences in experiential worlds is the a ultimate imperialist act, as Sahlins has suggested in another context, since in the name of globalization it denies to others theirs specificities even if they do it with Coke. No real artist could ever confuse the issues, only anthropologists and other academics. (Friedman 2006:176).

The final chapter by Nicholas Thomas (2006) is The Case of Tattooing, which draws our attention to a familiar theoretical impasse and a chronic source of anthropological anxiety inspired by Fosters (1996) essay The Artist as Ethnographer. Foster presumes that the discipline is constituted around the object of the other, and that it works on what he calls the horizontal axis, in engaging with institutions and communities at particular times, rather vertically and historically (Thomas 2006:178). However, Thomas argues, historical anthropology, which has come to be particularly concerned with colonialism, and with the shaping of both European and non-European cultures from the early phases of the colonial age up to the present, is not a science of the other. It has been consistently concerned with the relations between selves and the others (Thomas 2006:178). In the same sense the author asks,
is the representation of tattooed skin inherently pernicious? Are scholars, artists and photographers . . . refreshing the appetites of a

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European audience addicted to dehumanizing, exotic spectacle? Obviously, those whose body parts are trafficked in, displayed and reproduced are in no sense authors of their own objectifications. We must acknowledge, however, that tattooed people who are, so to speak, caught alive, are more or less willing partners of the sideshow voyeur, the image maker, or the viewer. What looks like an objectification may also be an expression of a tattooed persons agency, if that person has commissioned a photograph or produced a self-portrait. [Thomas 2006:180]

Thomas (2006:181) explains that his point is that disembodiment is not intrinsically a colonialist operation. Tattooing, according to Thomas, is
an activity that dealt knowingly with cultural difference; it had long been modified for application to other Polynesians, and had from an early stage in colonial history been made available in a kind of souvenir form to mariners whose bodies carried emblems of their many ports and voyages. Neither the ethnographers art nor the arts ethnography discover a custom that is itself innocent of ethnography; we find that the tattooist has got there first, if our object is the making of alterity. [Thomas 2006:189]

CONCLUSION Behind diatribes on aesthetic versus scientific approaches in anthropological filmmaking and writing, it seems that restoring neutrality and strong content may help in rebuilding visual anthropology in the broader frame of anthropological theory. That will help to inject new strength in the discipline after almost thirty years of postmodernist weakness. The great force of visual documentation of cultures, as documentary film producers well know, is that they get better as they get older; they increase in value with age, like a good wine. So perhaps visual anthropologists should rediscover the capacity of their cameras to record and fix an historical moment. In this sense audiovisual documents are as useful, and maybe more so, than written accounts. Finally, we may wonder, is the Manichean way inevitable? Should we necessarily split visual anthropologists practiceartistic and appliedfrom their use of cameras as research and archival tools?

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Can we escape from this conservative versus innovative dichotomy and imagine a multi-sided visual anthropology, acting alternatively in both ways according to the context, and in so doing mixing aesthetics and sciences so that visual anthropology might take benefit from both approaches? That could be a third way. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I offer my sincere thanks to the peer reviewers for their extremely valuable remarks. A special acknowledgment to the editor-in-chief, Roger Ivar Lohmann, for his deep competence, his elegant kindness, and his enormous patience. REFERENCES CITED
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