Reflection on “Digital Video as Research Practice: Methodology for the Millennium” and “Play to the camera: Video Ethnography, spectatorship, and e-sports”

After talking with Nick last Thursday about how to approach my research and videography in general, reflecting on these two articles (the first two I read) gave me a much better understanding on how I should approach everything. I have yet to read the Participatory Action article, but I wanted to reflect on these two pieces first. So, let me begin:

Beginning with Shrum’s article “Digital Video as Research Practice: Methodology for the Millennium”, I was better able to grasp the fluidity that can potentially arise when using video as a research practice. Shrum argues that “a convergence of digital video technologies with practices of social surveillance portends a methodological shift towards a new variety of qualitative methodology” and through this “new variety of qualitative methodology” he introduces two concepts: “fluid wall” and “video active context”. These two terms “emphasize that the camera is an actor in the research process, and both behavior and observation occur in both directions.”

I have begun wondering exactly how I wished to film the club, meaning from what angles, lighting, etc. Shrum addresses this process of decision-making through explaining how the camera itself is an actor within the process. Nick, in his article “Play to the camera: Video Ethnography, spectatorship, and e-sports”, discusses this same relationship with the camera as an actor. By including the camera in his research, Nick learned that a group of competitive Halo 3 players found their work more “professional”. They became more involved with the process (similarly to Shrum article in which participants began wondering how the camera was being utilized and in what ways they could help) and Nick was brought on and introduced as a videographer — not a researcher.

After talking with the officers of the club, I am interested to see their reactions to my wanting to film the club. I can see them reacting in a similar manner as NerdCorps; however, I predict there will be more of an “invisible wall” or separation between myself behind the camera and those in front of it, than a “fluid wall” that Shrum uses to describe the exchange of roles. My concern that the camera may potentially cause the club to lose members; Shrum even states that “it is the most important and subtle factor in digital video as a research practice: judging when the camera is an undesirable, intrusive and even dangerous actor”. Regardless, like Nick becoming a videographer for NerdCorps, I think that if introduced as a videographer, many of the club members will take upon a different “professionalism” as well as be excited that someone wants to help them rise in popularity. Only time will tell!