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ItemComposing contemporary ceremonyMackay, Margie ( 2017)Towards a praxial technique from a critical ‘practice as research’ perspective. Composed between 2007 and 2014, in collaboration with artists, Elders, and general public, Contemporary Ceremonies map multi-sited, transcultural ritual-art practices where Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians meet in reflexive exchange. This thesis posits a theory for composing these events from an emplaced and relational perspective utilizing Nelson’s definition of ‘Practice as Research’ which interrogates the “know that, know how and know what” of composition. This perspective includes propositional knowledge as found in ritual studies and Indigenous studies, procedural knowledge found in practice, and the ethical and instinctive choices made from experience and insight, which temper and guide aesthetics and poetics. An ‘Indigenist oriented research paradigm’ guides each step of this research, its findings, and outcomes, in an emplaced reconsideration of ritual theory and the artistic praxis of ceremony making. One vital ethical and relational imperative has been to articulate compositional ‘matters of concern’ from Western onto-epistemological lineages that I find to be in concert with Indigenous “Ways of Knowing, Being and Doing.” In doing so, I acknowledge and interrogate my own heritage and story in accordance with Indigenous protocols of research, as articulated by Shawn Wilson in ‘Research is Ceremony.’ The post-humanist philosophies of Bruno Latour and Peter Sloterdijk and their complimentary theories of spheres and networks have assisted in articulating the ethical, relational, and spatial perspectives in this approach. Through abbreviated grounded theory analysis of the structural, philosophical, and social dynamics revealed in four case studies, theory coalesces throughout the passage of the thesis to reveal the proposed praxial technique for Contemporary Ceremony composition as conclusion. Data collected for analysis includes auto-ethnographic accounts of case studies, artist’s diaries, video and photographic documentation, anonymous questionnaires, and working drawings, all of which have enabled the ‘matters of concern’ found in compositional dynamics to be identified and grouped into ‘categories of meaning.’ Categories of meaning emerged from scrutinizing data through a ‘Lefebvrean lens’ which considered producing the space of CCs, determining how they were conceived and perceived, and charting them as they evolved and were enacted in lived experiences. Hyperlinks in the text enable an experience of a mediated version of these CCs, and further detail is provided in auto- ethnographic accounts of each of the case studies. This thesis is structured in three books. It honours Wilson’s contention that ‘research is a ceremony’ through following the trifold schema of Arnold van Gennep’s theory on rites of passage. The first book, ‘Cosmos – Rites of Separation’ considers how the cosmos of Contemporary Ceremony is conceived. The second book, ‘Community – Rites of Transition’ considers the communities’ and other entities’ perceptions of CCs, whilst the third book ‘Artist’s Self – Rites of Incorporation’ reveals the artist’s material thinking, and from analysis of lived experience, disentangles the praxial technique.
ItemDissenting fiction re-righting law: practice-led research into biopolitics, women’s rights and reproductive justice in EcuadorGalarza, Maria Teresa ( 2017)Through a feature-length screenplay and accompanying dissertation this creative practice as research project addresses questions of biopolitics, women’s rights and reproductive justice. The research focuses on my own country, Ecuador, but alludes to a broader Latin American context. In this research, the practice of fiction screenplay writing configured my own understanding of the addressed issues. Based on this understanding, in the dissertation, reflecting upon “The Ladies Room” screenplay, I formulate an explanation around these issues. The first chapter of the dissertation focuses on the legislative context of “The Ladies Room” story. The second, third, fourth and fifth chapters articulate the possible world the screenplay proposes, relative to our four protagonists, respectively. The first chapter juxtaposes Ecuadorian Constitutional and Criminal Law, and public policy, against international human rights instruments with regard to women’s rights. Through the screenplay’s character of Isabel, the second chapter interrogates reproductive coercion and access to safe abortion, the notion of potentiality (not) to, the institution of motherhood and the practice of mothering. The third chapter revolves around Marcia, and how this female character embodies forms of biopolitical power that discipline the body and regulate the population; this chapter also reflects upon the family as an institution and the differential valuation between productive and reproductive work. In the fourth chapter, I understand Alice as a gendered configuration of Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer, and it is through her that the screenplay investigates the possibilities of speaking and been heard, the historically conflicting appearance of women before law, and contemporary forms of thanatopolitics. The fifth chapter interrogates the notion of “unwanted” children, articulated by the character of a little girl, Karlita. This proposes a reflection about a child, any child, as a being-after-birth, the pure possibility of a life, that is a life-to-be-mothered, characterized by a constitutive relationality. The dissertation’s final chapter argues for the necessity of beings-after-birth to create another form of biopolitics, one that is no longer a technology of power over life, but of power of life.
ItemEach moment is the universe: filming the Tibetan Buddhist community of Yumbulakhang in ChinaCheng, Yu Su ( 2017)This practice-based creative PhD project consists of a 135-minute PhD essay film and a context-driven dissertation, to demonstrate a research outcome for a relational, non-duality, improvisational, reflexive and formless filmmaking of “right now, right here” in the everyday world. This is an exposition which reflects a Buddhist framing of “each moment is the universe” as explored through 20 months of fieldwork and film production in the Tibetan Buddhist community of Yumbulakhang of China. The research showcases a process of filmmaking that emerges through a process of limitlessness to accommodate a possible film becoming, within and across a spectrum of key references, including Jean Rouch, Nathaniel Dorsky, Karl Heider, David MacDougall, inter alia, for interpreting a larger cultural and social context where the practical filmmaking here is refined.
ItemReflexivity, collaboration and ethical documentary filmmaking: a practice led approachThomas, Stephen ( 2017)This creative practice research concerns reflexivity, collaboration and ethics in authored documentary filmmaking—with a focus on the filmmaker-participant relationship. The written thesis provides a first-hand account and self-reflexive analysis of the production of Freedom Stories, consisting of a feature and six short documentaries. These constitute the creative component of the doctorate and utilise reflexivity in the quest to achieve a more ethical practice. Recent scholarship has questioned the view of documentary participants as powerless in the filmmaking process, recognising their agency in relationships with filmmakers and the reality of consent as a process of ongoing negotiation, in which a right of veto is considered. Taking this as a starting point, I have employed an explicitly collaborative approach through which former asylum seekers were invited to share their stories of arrival, detention, and eventual settlement in Australia. An important aim was to explore how such an attempt to deal with this asymmetrical power relationship between filmmaker and participant might be carried into the creative product itself to render the filmmaking process more transparent. The importance of mutual trust and what it means to sensitively engage with participants was central to this exploration. As Freedom Stories features people from the Middle-East, who have often been negatively represented as the ‘other’ in western commentary, I found the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas to be particularly relevant. This kind of filmmaking depends on the quality of the encounter with participants, and in a way, what I have articulated is a kind of heightened ethics of everyday life¬—the aim of which is to work for the benefit of the participants, not just the film. This ethical tension permeates the filmmaking process, in which the rounded representation of participants is paramount. In the written thesis, I self-reflexively examine dilemmas experienced during filming and editing, when the processes involved and the imperatives of narrative storytelling tended to work against ethical representation. I also discuss the dilemmas of exploiting personal stories of pain, which are common among asylum seekers. In experimenting with reflexivity in my filmmaking, I have articulated an approach that incorporates notions of performativity and improvisation. Through analysing the production process, including by means of a Production Journal, I have developed an iterative-reflexive approach to both practice and research. The conclusions reached confirm the centrality of participants in ethical filmmaking; the importance of a collaborative model in which agency is encouraged; the requirements of personal integrity and self-awareness in the filmmaker; and the necessity of ongoing review as a mode of reflexive ethical practice. Such attributes require an environment that encourages their employment, which is not always the case in the film and TV ‘industry’. The viability of this collaborative approach has been demonstrated through applying the ideas enunciated to achieve a more ethical practice, a greater transparency, and what might be termed a redemptive aesthetic, which calls on audiences through the performance of the documentary work to engage in deeper empathy with what really matters—that is, the life experiences of the people whose stories are explored on screen.