The Artist as Ethnographer

the artist as ethnographer

My first attempt at doing an “erms, uhms and ahs” piece (actually, the first was really A Siren Librarian [Edinburgh Books]– but this was the first time I was making a point of using “unworded verbalisations”). The idea had occurred to me as I was listening to the interviews, and I considered trying out a piece or two. However, I decided against it as it might be seen as abusive of the trust given (besides, when it comes to unworded verbalisations I have no right to talk, so I couldn’t really justify doing that to others). It then occurred to me that, having felt uneasy about my exclusion from – or rather unacknowledged presence in – the texts, this gave me the opportunity to address the situation: I could make explicit my presence, and one of the roles assumed (editor), by constructing a piece from elements normally discarded in the editing process.

The inclusion of “I was walking around as I have been doing” seemed an appropriate means of anchoring that presence to a continuing process (the interview as part of ethnographic observation).

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