Shanti Sumartojo – Empathetic Visuality: Go-Pros and the video trace

Published on Dec 14, 2016

Empathetic Visuality: Go-Pros and the video trace

Shanti Sumartojo and Sarah Pink

Body-mounted action cameras are increasingly used in social science research to account for and understand mobile experiences of the world. At the same time, this technology has prompted a range of new questions about the mobile digital video gaze, the technicalities of video production, the multi-sensory and immersive possibilities of such techniques and the possibility of empathetic co-creation of knowledge between researcher and research participants. In this presentation we discuss recent ethnographic projects that have rested on making and interpreting video footage from GoPro cameras, by both research participants and of our own movements in public environments.

We will discuss the unique perspective that GoPros can offer on understanding mobile, embodied and sensory experience and the empathetic connections between researchers, participants and audiences. We will argue that this requires us to acknowledge video not simply as a representational medium, but as a trace through the world that we move and learn with. Accordingly, we will also consider the empirical and conceptual potential offered by positioning the camera close to or on the bodies of participants (including ourselves) and the resulting intimate video trace that this creates.

We investigate how people experience the digital in everyday life, By researching from the ground up we bring fresh insight to a constantly changing world. The Digital Ethnography Research Centre DERC focuses on understanding a contemporary world where digital and mobile technologies are increasingly inextricable from the environments and relationships in which everyday life plays out. DERC excels in both academic scholarship and in our applied work with external partners from industry and other sectors.
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