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Rosemary Lee
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Passage
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Caught by seeing
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Beached: A Commonplace Book
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Introduction
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‘In the field’
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Field Notes
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A walk to Iken
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Hoarding
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References +
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Process writings
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A Tribute to Michael Donaghy 1954-2004
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A tribute to Niki Pollard
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the raw unit of anthropological study remains the individual, [but] the individual must be left by the wayside on the road to the general principle.
– David MacDougall (1995)
Rosemary Lee and Niki Pollard    
How to hoard: writing field notes of rehearsals

‘In the field’

Rosemary:

Niki: An ethnographic dimension of our research is probably becoming evident as we speak, despite its having been conceived of from outside of that disciplinary formation. To speak of rehearsal notebooks, for example, as written ‘in the field’ is to adopt the meta-language of ethnographic participant-observation. What seemed opportunist, speculative decisions – Rosemary’s invitation to watch rehearsals, my writing of a rehearsal journal, and our conversations about her notebooks – retrospectively and irresistibly, gain the productive logic of research methods.

Contemporary ethnography can offer us useful methodological clarity, for example, my understanding of how I kept a studio journal is enriched by how ethnography (and social science more generally) construe the researcher as research instrument. As ethnographer Sarah Pink puts it, ‘A reflexive approach recognises the centrality of the subjectivity of the researcher to the production and representation of ethnographic knowledge.’ However, we want to resist much of the disciplinary apparatus of categories and techniques that rolls out with the supposition that our methods are, say, participant observation. Is it imperative to this research, for example, that we determine our conversations to be ‘semi-structured interviews’, ‘member-checked’, ‘transactional’ or ‘respondent-validated’?

Viewed as a variant of participant-observation, the stages of our research look disappointingly foreclosed and known in advance. In all likelihood, however, if we had planned out a conventionally research-worthy procedure, our insights would have been limited. As Rosemary describes later, a crucial part of how she writes in her notebook is of trying to keep in her choreographic state of imagination. To write reflexively at these times could interrupt and obstruct her practice. Perhaps we are simply coming up against the theoretical momentum of social sciences towards rules and patterns, a momentum at odds with our research into the specificity of how an artist works.     

   
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