Vol. 5. No. 1, 2020

Screencasts as a method of Remote Ethnography 

Urte Undine Frömming, Leandro Goddinho, Blake Paul Kendall (eds.)

#DigitalAnthropology #Machinimas #COVID19 #Stayathome 


Digital Anthropology in the time of Corona: 1.5 meter social distancing & the mediated gap in between

Digital Anthropology is a discipline that is often hard to define as the rate of development across technologic innovation, is paralleled with a changing face of usership and application. For a relatively recent sub-discipline, these challenges of delving into the ever-changing modes in which humans engage with the digital, is often grounded with the need of innovating the methods of ethnographic research in digital or virtual worlds (Boellstorff 2012, Pink 2015, Frömming 2017) to accommodate for these new modes of human behavior and experience. It is however, with the emergence of the COVID-19 and SARS-COV20 viruses, and the resulting phenomena socially and politically referred as a global pandemic, that many aspects of Digital Anthropology take on a new wave of significance. Whereby many of the aspects and methods of research that were developed within the sub-discipline, have helped paved the way in which many anthropologists now grapple with the question, how do we conduct ethnographic research beyond the limitations of the material world engagement? With border closures, lockdowns, and social distancing, the very premise of long-term ethnographic fieldwork has been challenged, and for many, whether they like it or not, Anthropology as well as many aspects of life, are #NOW Digital. 2020 — the year of CARE / the_future_is_here.

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Are you alright? - Maria Papadouli

Are you alright? is a short film about how health anxiety is projected on the online sphere and how that reflects back to the people suffering from it, as described by various individuals. In the process of making this film, I attempted to discover if other people who are or have been dealing with health anxiety are or have been affected by the amount of information that is available online regarding physical symptoms/conditions/remedies, etc. My intention was to unravel possible behavioural patterns that we, the people who have dealt with that particular phenomenon and have used the internet as our main source of information/finding comfort, might have in common. My research mainly focuses on the “online routes”  the individuals follow to get information or to get in touch with others while experiencing health anxiety. I was curious about how this online phenomenon affects the people’s reality and actual relationships, and also, what is the role that doctors and therapists play or have played before/during and after periods of intense googling?

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Excerpts from ‘Chronicle of a Digital Funeral’ - Sophia Harb

Excerpts from Chronicle of a Digital Funeral is an intimate conversation with Nasser Jaber, a socially motivated chef based in New York City, reflecting on his father’s burial in Palestine, which he could not attend because of Covid-19.

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Dare2Date - Anna Ivanova

In a series of interviews, Dare2Date explores how the pandemic times changed the attitude of men to dating and meeting new people. Do people trust each other the same way as before? Are they still motivated to meet people they don’t know? Do they feel content with the newly appeared formats of dating such as video? Do they see any positive aspects of the pandemic influence on their dating experiences? Ivanova does this by setting up the video dates with the participants. In order to make the interviewees comfortable to share their private stories, their faces are disguised with the Snapchat filters. They were asked to choose a filter of their liking before the interviews.

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ISSUES: Housing in Berlin - Yağmur İpek Cıngıllıoğlu

A machinima film that aims sense-make, trace-make and meaning-make the #housingcrisis and online room searching experience in Berlin through phenomenologically informed narratives of the participants and spatial montage of digital traces. Berlin, the capital known for its traditionally low rents and hip arts scene, is in a major #housingcrisis. In 2017, the city ranked first globally for the fastest rising property prices, with a more than 120% increase in the average property price since 2004. The situation spiraling out of control turns the city into a battlefield between the tenants, real estate owners, and politicians. Despite the left-wing government’s efforts to defend the tenants’ rights by enacting the rent cap before the end of 2020, the challenge of finding lasting shelter remains the same for many Berliners and the newcomers. Along with the lack of affordable housing, the city’s fast-growing population increases the competition between hundreds of prospects for a single apartment or a room. 

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Digital Eye - Blind and Visually Impaired in the Digital Age - Satoru Niwa

While we usually access digital content visually, what alternatives are there for people who do not rely on visual information? This is my central inquiry for this project, and "Digital Eye" is an attempt to visualize how the blind/visually impaired access and use Internet Technology, also how the improvement in accessibility affects and changes the lives of blind/visually impaired.

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A Technology of Consciousness - Lara Ansell

Through computer technologies and the virtual space we have been able to break the constraints of the physical world. As we immerse ourselves into these ‘creations’ the self dissolves into the network of digital consciousness. Now more than ever the boundary between what we perceive to be the ‘virtual’ and the ‘real’ is blurred; virtual expansions seamlessly flow into our perceived realities. What does this mean for the evolution of consciousness? What does it mean to explore the significance of ‘connection’ within and through the virtual space? Within this current age of ‘Immersion’ how do technologies allow the mind to explore itself and to what limits? This film seeks to explore and experiment with how virtual spaces within the present day can challenge conventional oppositions of virtual versus natural and spiritual versus material. It is the self’s ability to extend, permeate and multiply through digital space that that we reach altered levels of experience and this been made increasingly easy through the humanization of technology, or rather the ‘technologicalization of the human’.  

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Are you a bot? - Cihan Kücük

ARE YOU A BOT? is an experimental attempt to catch political bot accounts on social media with the technique that has been used in the science fiction novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" written by Philip K. Dick which was later adapted to the cinema by Ridley Scott under the name of "Blade Runner". In the movie, Voight-Kampff test distinguishes androids from people with a verbal test that measures emotional changes with questions. This is the only way to recognize a certain type of androids who resisted against humanity and decided to be destroyed. The main character in this experimental film is Steve Deckard, who inherits his name from Steve Bannon and Rick Deckard and exists on social media with a profile picture created by artificial intelligence.

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The Myth of White Genocide - Joni Els

The Myth of White Genocide is a digital conversation unpacking the intricacies of identity formation and online representation, with insight into how it can easily all go awry.

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A New Art Form Emerging in Google Street View: Secondary Use of Digital Content and Fair Use - Satoru Niwa

Google Maps is the world's most popular web mapping service with WebGIS that provides satellite imagery, aerial photography, interactive panoramic views of streets: Google street view, real-time traffic condition, and route planning. They give users unique experiences and perspectives on topography. With the features, Google Maps serves to convey its demonic appeal to not only map enthusiasts but also those who had never been interested in a map before. Of course, artists who have a keen sensitivity are already aware of this fascinating material that can be used for their creation. Exploring the overwhelming amount of archival spatial information that underpins the quality of Google Maps, many artists have tried to salvage values that lurk in it. Through artworks, they have tried to present us new perspectives on how a digitized map system really influences our society. At the same time, their works consequently highlight new issues that internet-based art/art-making in the digital age is facing. This article explores the social validity and legal legitimacy of artworks, which are secondary use of digital content, following the concept of fair use and copyright through some cases which use Google Street View’s imagery in the artistic creation.

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