Created by Nico Carpentier
Wolf Talks is an arts-based research project that questions the power dynamics of the discursive-material relationships between human and non-human animals. Part of the Fotograf Festival, the project is an invitation to go on a Wolf Walk, and visit the twelve wolf-and-cat-face collage photographs, located at 12 different places in Prague, guided by a website. On each location, visitors can listen to a Wolf Talks sound fragment (connected with the photograph through a QR code), where a wolf will speak to the visitor. Exceptionally, as a curtesy to the visitor, the wolves will speak the visitor's language. Or at least, visitors will understand them, even if the wolves might challenge them a bit.
Arts-based Research in Communication and Media Studies
A Special Issue of Comunicazioni Sociali
Edited by Nico Carpentier and Johanna Sumiala
Slowly but surely, arts-based research is making its entry into Communication and Media Studies, moving away from our rather exclusive focus on the written text. We believe that more could be done in our field, at the level of theorizing arts-based research practices and at the level of deploying them. With this call for articles, in the special issue of Comunicazioni Sociali, we want to further stimulate the discussion on this topic, bringing together a diversity of voices, formats and approaches, all related to the theme of artistic-academic dialogue. Contributions will be written by academics, artists and (cultural) policy-makers, making use of a variety of form(ats), including policy notes, visual essays and comics.
Silencing / Unsilencing Nature is an educational package that unpacks the discursive-material relationship between humans and nature, and reflects on how nature often has been silenced. At the same time, it investigates how nature can be given a voice and become unsilenced again. A series of video essays explain how human control is exercised over nature, partially through discoursesstructured ways of thinking about the world, ourselves and othersand partially through humans ability to manipulate the material world. But our discourses are not perfectly stable and all-encompassing; they are object of political struggles and thus contain many contingencies, contradictions and gaps. Moreover, the material world has its own agency, and is not perfectly malleable by humans. It resists our manipulations. These gaps and resistances also open up opportunities to rethink our dominant ways of dealing with nature, and allow us to develop discursive-material practices that take nature seriously, and empathically speak from natures perspective. One example, developed in the video essays, is the position of the wolf in the zoo assemblage, how these animals are discursively and materially entrapped, and how their voices can be made audible and gain more strength. Furthermore, the package offers strategies to unsilence nature, and give nature more of a voice, through an assignment that generates a photography exhibition and catalogue. The package consists of an introductory video, four mini-lectures on video (each with one or two exercises), two assignment videos, an epilogue video and a workshop script. The package has been developed through a collaboration with Färgfabriken and the Institute of Communication Studies and Journalism (ICSJ) at Charles University in Prague, within the framework of the MISTRA Environmental Communication (MEC) Research Programme.
Wolves at the Prague Zoo Assemblage project
The Wolves at the Prague Zoo Assemblage project consists out of 12 photographs, combined with a written text. This ensemble is a reflection on human-animal power relations, and the discursive-material nature of this power matrix. The analysis combines an emphasis on material and discursive fixationstrapping the wolves in an enclosure, a dependency from humans for food, gazing human visitors, classification systems and commodificationswith attention for the limited forms of resistance that the wolves can exercise. The photographs signify this enculturation, through the use of the cat face filters, but also respectfully allow nature to talk back through the use a series of theoretical questions that the wolves are asking.
[Fotograf Issue 35]
The Prague Passages Project
The Prague Passages Project builds on cultural geography and Foucaults concept of heterotopias, and combines visual ethnography with photocollage. The aim is to explore how the passages (pasáže) of central Prague function as heterotopias of inclusion and exclusion. These ambiguous and hybrid spaces are simultaneously open and closed, both disciplining mobility and fostering plurality and heterogeneity. The analysis points to the multiplicity and contingency of space in the urban environment, which does not fully integrate its subjects, but leaves room for them to create their own meanings and pleasures of the spaces they inhabit.
6 February 2020
Respublika! Finland: Arts-based Research or Communication Studies? Yes, please!
The workshop was aimed at establishing a dialogue between different engaged actors about arts-based research projects in Finland, focussing on 1/the perceived relevance of, and opportunities generated by this type of research, 2/the experiences with organising these kinds of research, 3/the requirements for strengthening this field of inquiry, and 4/the role that (Communication and Media Studies) scholars can play in (initiating) these projects. It took place on 6 February 2020, at the Kone Foundation in Helsinki, and was organised by Johanna Sumiala (University of Helsinki) and Nico Carpentier.