It has been years since I read a book that had such great substance and yet, I did not want to keep reading it. Whenever a book is written where the author chooses to make each chapter independent of itself, I know it is trouble for me. In this review, I chose to write how my brain interpreted the author’s thoughts. It interpreted the contents in a scattered way (probably because I couldn’t see the big picture).
“This book is primarily for researchers from across ‘ethnographic’ disciplines and interdisciplinary fields who wish to incorporate audiovisual media into their research practice.” Pink also suggest that her book targets visual media practitioners seeking an understanding of how ethnographic research may inform their work. Visual ethnography incorporates photography and video so Pink focuses on this form of visual analysis.
Pink suggests something that I can never understand to this day. She states that, “books are not necessarily to be read directly from start to finish, and it will depend on the reader to decide whether to read this chapter first or last.” I love action movies so when a movie is moving too slow for me, I fast forward to the parts that I may like. The problem is that I miss the story line and never grasp an understanding of the direction of the movie. It doesn’t matter how great the action is, if the story line is missing, I can no longer enjoy the movie unless I watch scene by scene. I understand the willingness to give us options but sometimes it makes sense to leave things as is and that is the reason we have an introduction and a conclusion. We want the reader to understand the flow of things.
It was difficult for me to read the bible as a child because my church leaders tried to tell me that the books were not listed in chronological order so everyone had an approach as to which books to read first. Since Pink provided a background of the methodology in chapter one with everything in a chronological order, it made sense to read that chapter first. Understanding the background will help us understand the basis for the book and Pink confessed that fact by stating that chapter one “will offer a historical and disciplinary narrative of how the visual ethnography approach discussed in later chapters came about.” Imagine if we read the book of Genesis right after Revelation and Deuteronomy before Exodus. It would definitely make a difference in how we interpret the bible.
This book also focused on subjectivity, creativity and self-consciousness. Hence, we see the combination of anthropological ideas and an exploration of consumption and material culture. Honestly, this book has a meaningful purpose but it is not geared for the average reader in terms of understanding. We all learn differently and I understand culture plays a lot in how we interpret different writings. I understood that Pink was trying to show us that photography, video and hypermedia are convenient tools in ethnographic research. I also understood the examples used in the book although I did not always understand their purpose. Outside of that, I was mostly lost and confused because I could not get a rhythm or flow. Since Pink writes in such a way where each chapter is not dependent on the other, my brain felt scattered trying to gain clarity. If you asked me, did Pink accomplish her purpose in writing this book? I would say sure, because she intended for this to be a resource tool rather than a guide. Well, here I am using this book as a supplement in a degree program.
Visual ethnography is not simply combining words for a desired result but combining narratives with photographs and video, helps us create meaningful presentations. There is no doubt that visual aids are a necessity based on clarity for research. However, the narratives need to be creatively structured to keep the audience engaged. “A picture says a thousand words” but I am sure there are specific words you would like it to say. My wife has a creative imagination. In fact, she completed her internship at DreamWorks in California. She is always seeing things with her creative mind and I am often lost and she is frustrated but when you add some words, we are on the same page.
I am not analyzing Pink based on substance but more so the flow of the overall book. She does offer validity in how we provide quality research with visual aids.