Thursday, September 9, 2010

Preliminary Predictions and Where I'm Going From Here...

Well, I am back. Not all the way, but I need to start somewhere. It is time to reel in my five avatars and speak as a slightly less skitso, multiple personality disorder victim, and be just Rachel—a name that started to collect a little bit of dust.

Here is an overview of what I am hoping to do for the rest of my time on this blog and a prediction of what I think I captured before I dive into my notes. Time to decode, interpret, and assign the meaning to a polished, tweaked experience. Ghana in retrospect.

I think that my project was a great success in ways I never anticipated, and the way I see it, I can look at this through two different frames. First, how did my avatar—the way I chose to look at my day—affect my experience, and second, how did the medium I chose to record the experience alter what I captured? Here are my preliminary predictions.


Ava—my romantic anthropologist. When I tried to see through her eyes I was a slave to my jot book, which was great for capturing the details of exactly what happened, what was said, what I ate for dinner, or what color someone’s shirt was, it was time away from looking up and seeing the person and the reactions I was getting to my presence. People did not share as much when I was recording their every word because of the formality, yet if I didn’t write it down, most of it would be lost. It wasn’t bad, but I had a different experience because of it. I also tried to be more objective and more positive, which may or may not have worked—I’ll have to see.

Myra—my photographer. We had a rough start when some of my expectations were obliterated, but in ways I think she was the most eye opening. Questions like what we choose to take a picture of, what aperture to use, what doesn’t make the crop, and what a national geographic looking picture does to authenticity, flooded my field notes—to say nothing about what a presence of a camera does to the subjects, or where a camera is not appropriate. My photography subjects were also mostly kids, a group of people I might not have really accessed without having this avatar. I’m excited to flesh this one out.

Gipsy—my postmodern traveler. This one, probably to the typical field study project, would have been nothing short of a diary and not worthy of traditional field notes. Here I had the freedom to record a bizarre Larium induced dream, vent about my frustrations, be honest with myself and my feelings about the day, and dive into some of the connections I was making to my past. It was more personal, and the nature of that is to be more self absorbed and be less observant, which would not be ideal 100 percent of the time on a field study, but it allowed me to have a personal narrative, not try to pretend that I didn’t, and allowing that perspective changed my experience.

Shelley—my “experiencer.” Again, another avatar that struggled to develop and is not yet finished. Trying to leave my jot book and camera home for the day turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated. To just be, is not easy, and to just be without frantically memorizing events or making sense of the scene I found practically impossible. Still, not turning down opportunities did open my experience up to some great, and some weird, stories that I might have otherwise missed out on. Things like trying new foods (and eating with my hands), coming over to say hi to people who don’t understand me, or watching the World Cup with my host family instead of doing copious field notes, all changed what I experienced that day.

Akua—my native. This avatar probably failed if we are talking strictly about having a perspective alter the experience. I found it impossible, and maybe I could have come closer to the goal if I had more time, but her voice is mostly an overlay that I can apply in retrospect to show the reactions the people might have had to my group’s presence, or to offer a voice to juxtapose to my avatars.

Mediums of Recording:

I will not know until I look through the mountain of notes exactly how different these recordings turned out, but here are the main ways I mediated my experience.

Field notes- typed
Field notes- hand written
This blog
Cultural Proofs (and keep an eye out, these are all going up here)
“Good things that happened today” book
Digital Photography

1 comment:

  1. Having experienced Ghana through the eyes of an Ava, a Myra, a Shelley and an inbetweener (someone somewhere between Gipsy and Akua), I have come to the realization that life is best lived when not having to deal with the stresses of recording that Ava or Myra experience. Not to say that recording is not good, I can see how it would be (especially when keeping in mind the context of your trip), but the experience is difficult to fully appreciate in such cases.