Matshedisho, Raji: Reflections on video log (February 2012)
Reflections on video log
The video log was captured starting from the corner of Goldreich and Banket Streets into Berea Park entrance in Catherine Avenue. It was captured during the visit of the film crew (Dorte and Anna).
Firstly, at the moment I began filming I immediately felt a separation between the video camera’s viewfinder and my eyes. While the camera was facing towards the park I became conscious of my surroundings in a 360 degree view but felt restricted by the frame of the camera and to move forward to the park. Without a camera it’s easy to look at sideways and backwards if I hear a sound that catches your interest to look where it’s coming from. In order to satisfy the need to freely look at anywhere while I am walking or to capture the surrounding for the viewer, I made a 360 degree shot of the entrance of the park in Catherine street showing the all of Catherine Street, the corner of Joel Street and Goldreich Street upon which I reached the park. At least I felt I could ‘see’ what’s behind me and on sideways.
Secondly, talking to the camera at first felt like I was talking to myself and it felt redundant. However, as soon as I had to describe the surroundings, signs, sounds and people in front and around Berea Park I felt the limitation to describe and explain some of them. That reminded me not to take for granted a research site but to regularly probe and to be ready to answer if someone asks me about activities in my research site. Moreover, it reminded me about remembering the street names that surrounded the park. I realised I only knew two names (Catherine Avenue and Joel Street). After the vedio log I went round outside the park and learned that it was also bordered by Fife Street on the north and a church building on the west.
Thirdly as I moved around and filming, I had to ‘balance’ some of my senses because:
- I had to use my eyes outside the viewfinder to see what was interesting to capture outside the frame of the camera.
- I had to use my ears and eyes to mind cars coming from behind or not to bump against people and objects I moved.
- I had to use my eyes, feet and body to make sure that I was walking properly not to disturb people’s movement in the park and in the up and downward slopes of the park while holding the camera still with minimal handshaking.
- I also used some ethical sense by not sticking too much to capturing one person or group of persons at a time even though some people were doing some interesting activities (e.g., playing game of checkers) because I did not have their consent to film them. So I kept moving more around people but staying more capturing buildings or objects in the park
Fourthly, there were ‘new’ hawkers (informal traders) in the park on this day. All of them were women and I captured that in the video log and verbally mentioned that I had to probe about who gets to sell in the park and if it’s legal or not. However, I did notice these women when I first entered the park without the camera because I was focusing on Alex’s transact walk and taking the usual routine pictures of the park. That also made me realise how often I needed to revisit the earlier photo shots of the park in July/August.
Finally, it took so much energy than I expected to talk (describe & explain), walk (properly in the park like everyone else), film , think (combining all my actions and senses) at the same time. However, as I proceeded towards the end of the log I was beginning to feel more confident to walk around and talk while filming. Hence I quickly climbed onto a three-‘storey’ bench to film the park from the centre and from a higher level. At that moment I felt free from worrying about what people might think I was doing.
The only concern I have is when to use the video log as I get deeper into the field. At what point will I know is good or not so good to do a video log?
Raji Matshedisho, Hillbrow, Johannesburg (2011 November 29)