Wynne, John (2011) Sound art, documentary practices and ethical minefields: Trust, interpretive freedom and responsible engagement with vulnerable subjects. In: Documentary Now! A Conference on the Contemporary Contexts and Possibilities of the Documentary, 28-30 January 2011, University of Westminster, London. (Unpublished)
|Type of Research:||Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item|
As part of the conference Documentary Now!
Sound art, documentary practices and ethical minefields: Trust, interpretive freedom and responsible engagement with vulnerable subjects
"The word itself, ‘research’, is probably one of the dirtiest words in the indigenous world’s vocabulary."
My interdisciplinary research-based practice often involves working with subjects who could be regarded, for various reasons, as vulnerable. I was artist-in-residence, along with photographer Tim Wainwright, at Harefield Hospital, one of the world’s leading centres for heart and lung transplants and I have worked with linguists in the Kalahari Desert and in northern British Columbia to record speakers of highly endangered indigenous languages. In most literature regarding the protection of vulnerable subjects, the economically disadvantaged and those in marginalised social groups feature alongside long-term patients and those with terminal illnesses in lists of groups deemed to be at risk of experiencing “control, coercion, undue influence, or manipulation” at the hands of researchers. Patients waiting for a heart or lung transplant are pretty much as ill as one can get and still be alive, and speakers of endangered languages are usually members of communities with a long history of extreme political, racial and economic oppression.
This presentation will discuss ethical considerations in art practice through work which strive to problematise the ethnographic gaze and highlight relations of power in order to avoid essentialist interpretation. It will examine the various levels of trust involved in fieldwork-based projects: trust between subjects and researcher, between researchers and relevant controlling authorities (political, institutional) and between researcher and funding/supporting bodies. Issues of compromise will be raised through a practice which seeks to reconcile responsible engagement, accurate research and creative expression.
|Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed:||Documentary|
|Your affiliations with UAL:||Colleges > London College of Communication
Research Centres/Networks > Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice (CRiSAP)
|Copyright Holders:||John Wynne and Tim Wainwright|
|Event Location:||University of Westminster, London|
|Projects or Series:||Research Outputs Review (April 2010 - April 2011)|
|Date Deposited:||02 Nov 2011 15:26|
|Last Modified:||03 Nov 2011 09:49|
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