In the Land of War Canoes

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Information about In the Land of War Canoes

Published on January 17, 2008

Author: Dolorada


In the Land of the War Canoes:  In the Land of the War Canoes Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868-1952) :  Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868-1952) 1st studio - Seattle 1893 official photog of scientific expedition in Alaska decided to make "a photographic history of the American Indian" The North American Indian:  The North American Indian visited 80 tribes, took 40,000 photographs, made 10,000 tapes, & wrote reams 20 vol Completed 1930 On-line photos:  On-line photos Library of Congress Prints & Photo-graphs Reading Room Overview of the Curtis Collection Ethnographic impulse:  Ethnographic impulse To preserve a Native culture that had begun a radical transformation At same time, helped to shape Native culture freezing his vision of the past - textual & photographic memories oral memories of tribal elders and others In the Land of the War Canoes :  In the Land of the War Canoes a tribal story of love and revenge among the Kwakiutl Indians of Vancouver Island narrative drama-tization using Kwakiutl actors native costumes, carvings, dancing and rituals Origins of ethnographic film:  Origins of ethnographic film Considered 1st ethnographic film 1972: only surviving print restored original score of music & chants recorded by Kwakiutl Salvage Ethnography:  Salvage Ethnography subjects not only non-Western, but non-urban & generally lived in societies whose ways of life were threatened by contact with modern world In the Land of the Headhunters (1914):  In the Land of the Headhunters (1914) fictional romantic melodrama made among the Kwaikutl Little attempt to portray individuals in depth headhunting scenes & evil witch obviously added “taxidermy”:  “taxidermy” tendency to mythologize native individual fix native culture at a seemingly changeless time untouched by modernity or influence of other cultures Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life:  Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Paramount 1925 journey of the Bakhtiari, a poor nomadic tribe in Iran, as they herd livestock up snow-covered mountain passes--barefoot--to get to the grazing lands on other side of mountains before animals die from hunger Grass opening:  Grass opening begins with Cooper, Schoedsack, and their third colleague, Marguerite Harrison, photographing themselves a title card identifies Cooper as "The engineer who conceived the idea of recording the migration." Grass opening:  Grass opening Schoedsack, "whose camera recorded the experience." Lastly, Harrison, dressed in safari gear, looking like a cross between Marlene Dietrich and Marie Dressler. She is identified as an "author and traveler." After this moment in the spotlight, the two men disappear behind the camera. But the meaning is clear -- this is their film, their version of the events. Moving Image Icons:  Moving Image Icons Plantinga’s main claim: diff bet fiction & nonfiction film nonfiction presents itself assertively rather than fictively unspoken agreement bet text & discursive community function of moving photographic image :  function of moving photographic image rel of moving photo image to profilmic event? convention or likeness? FX of automatic nature of photog? What about evidentiary status of photog images? Esp now with digital images photogs as icons & images Peirce, Wollen Review semiotic terms:  Review semiotic terms icon: resembles or likeness of referent index: relates to referent thru causality – eg. sundial symbol: rel of arbitrary convention to referent Icons vs. Art debate:  Icons vs. Art debate photog has special status Likeness (icon) Automatic Vs. conventional arbitrary nature (light etc) – expressive art form Plantinga: no need for this defence images can function as icons w/out threatening notion of art no need to deny spec rel to vis world or mech nat of camera The Referent and the “Ideology of the Visible” :  The Referent and the “Ideology of the Visible” denial of nbance of referent (debate) Baudrillard: society of simulacrum (simulation) access only to simulacra – photog images among them cf. Sontag – cam promotes “value of appearances” – photogs as “norm for way things appear to us” – thus change very idea of reality Plantinga:  Plantinga “Nonfictions point to more than mere discourse, are about s.t., and make claims & assertions about extrafilmic reality” common sense: images have referents Colin MacCabe:  Colin MacCabe film doesn’t reveal reality – rather constituted by set of discourses wh prod certain reality” film discourse = productive work, transformation of reality as discourse, becomes element of actual world, but w potential to transform reality so nonfictions = instruments of action, not mere passive reflections of real referentiality :  referentiality even if we grant largely conventional & rhetorical nat of nonfiction film relation bet discourse & referent still central to deny referentiality for nonfiction film makes no sense

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