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How engaged documentary filmmakers use new technologies in their work

CADS lecturer Sander Hölsgens is one of the initiators of the NWO Smart Culture Project Documenting Complexity (project number CISC.KC.212). This project investigates how and why engaged documentary filmmakers use new technologies in their work. One of the outputs of this project is the series ‘In Whose Name?’ that has been published this week on the Fieldsights platform of Society for Cultural Anthropology.


The series In Whose Name? explores how anthropologists and artists co-create with their interlocutors, so as to do justice to the diversity of experiences, perspectives and lifeworlds. During his field research, Hölsgens worked with many makers to be able to portray their perspectives. Hölsgens: "The focus of the research increasingly shifted from the emphasis on technology to various forms of making and collaborating. I asked five anthropologists, artists, and collectives to think critically about collaborations and co-creation, resulting in this forum."

16mm film buried in radioactive soil

For the forum, Hölsgens invited several makers, each of whom deals with this in radically different ways. Assistant Professor at CADS Andrew Littlejohn is one of the contributors. He has been using chemicals in his work. Hölsgens: "Instead of following the traditions of authorship in filmmaking and assembling a film all by himself, Andrew buried a roll of 16mm film about ten miles from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The radioactive ions helped him to produce an ethnographic film." The result of this experiment can be viewed in the short film Disintegration Stars and the accompanying essay

Stretching collaborations

In addition to Andrew Littlejohn, Hölsgens invited visual anthropologist Lana Askari to submit a piece. She questions how her diaspora experience can act as a starting point for co-creating and collaboration. Anthropologists Isabelle Carbonell, Anna Tsing and Yen-Ling Tsai focus on human/non-human relationships in their work. Hölsgens "With this series I try to stretch and deepen the idea of collaborations."

View the entire series In Whose Name? and the film Disintegration Stars by Andrew Littlejohn.

Documenting Complexity is a joint effort between the University of Groningen, University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, WORM, VersPers, Sound and Vision, and MU Hybrid Art House.

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