Conditions of Receptivity: Intimate, Indeterminate and Interminable Cinemas of Encounter
Royal Holloway, University of London
Year of enrolment: 2019
"The trouble with people who collect data is not that they collect it, but that they do not collect it receptively enough. They don’t get rid of their anticipations enough to register everything (...) the condition of receptivity is primary and must precede any analysis."
"There is some merit to the position of a perennial in-betweener.”
Initiated by Maya Deren’s observation, my practice-led filmic exploration, inspired by essayistic / diaristic films embracing the indeterminacy and possibilities of the open encounter; e.g. People I Could Have Been and Maybe Am (Boris Gerrets), Sherman’s March (Ross McElvee), Lift (Marc Isaacs), Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa), will deliver a series of films conveying suggestive, intimate stories of our entanglements. Gorin’s helpful notion above prioritises ‘investigation’ over ‘documentary’, stressing the filmmaker’s struggle of, with and for a reality experienced as problematic.
Faye Ginsburg suggests that recent scholarship has focused disproportionately on ‘formal experimentation’ in ethnographic documentary (ie. Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab). I wish to make a distinctive contemporary contribution to the ethical and creative dilemmas posed by what she terms ‘relational documentary’. I will explore how a form of inquiry and curiosity based on ‘conditions of receptivity’ might change filmmaking practices.
Through a series of embodied encounters my research will dwell on the discomforts of ‘not knowing’, seeking how to remain open to the situations and people filmed. Following Lucia Nagib’s ‘ethics of a commitment to the truth of the unpredictable event’, I will consider how this ethics might contain a political potential to affect alternative imaginaries, provoking new knowledge and perceptions. Alisa Lebow and Alexandra Juhasz call for contemporary documentary strategies that go ‘Beyond Story’; the outcomes of this research will constitute an original contribution to knowledge in the territory that borders documentary, essay, first person and artist's film practices.