If affective filmmaking as method can open feeling to thought through making, what questions does it make possible? What is its potential for future research? In this post I riff on this question, thinking with ‘what if’.
My research develops affective filmmaking as a method of inquiry that supports young people to explore everyday understandings and experiences of gender in secondary school*. Affective filmmaking is designed to give expression to young people’s felt experience and tacit knowledge in an emergent process of thinking through making.
Reading theory, thinking, questioning and writing is challenging intellectual work. Capturing and articulating thoughts in words as they emerge is a delicate process: committed too soon they may break the flow of ideas, and too late allow vital threads to be lost. For me self-censorship too – even as I actively work against it – frequently trickles in uninvited to derail my writing process. One day when I was feeling particularly despondent about a month into my PhD candidature I decided to take a break from writing on my computer to doodle my thoughts with a bold black pen in a small visual art book.
Social and education researchers are doing innovative work using arts-based methods to explore gender and identity with young people within a feminist new materialist theoretical framing to a/effect change. Emma Renold and Anna Hickey-Moody are two key scholars in this field whose work inspires and informs my doctoral research. I am interested in how Renold and Hickey-Moody use arts-based methods as a way of opening up the space of enquiry beyond binaries and stereotypes in playful ways that has the potential to both affect and effect change in the wider community and policy space. I aim to explore how this approach can be applied to using filmmaking as an arts-based method with young people to trace everyday experiences and understandings of gender in secondary schooling in Australia.
In reading and thinking about theory and practice I’ve been struck by the synergies between feminist new materialism, creative arts research and my experience of filmmaking practice.
Feminist new materialism, informed by the work of philosophers Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Karen Barad, Rosi Braidotti and Donna Haraway, challenges the centrality of the human experience as a guiding premise in social and educational research and rejects notions of knowledge as binary, static and essentialist (Taylor, 2016, p. 5-24)). Barad’s theory of agential realism demands an engaged material practice in which ethics, being and knowing are inseparable, and matter, affect and discourse are relationally intertwined and co-constituted (Barad, 2007, p. 137-41).
Barad’s conception of meaning as dynamic and created through the intra-action of matter through space and time resonates with my experience of documentary filmmaking as a thinking/making process in which meanings are multiple and slippery, emerging affectively through space and time.
My thinking about filmmaking as an affective, emergent mode of inquiry to explore experiences of gender in secondary school with young people through doctoral research.